FIRST: Visit a Marian shrine and pray before the Virgin Mary for her continued intercession; that Mary, the Mother of Our Saviour, will deepen your Communion with her Son, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Rome’s well-known Marian shrines Santa Maria Maggiore, La Madonna del Divino Amore, Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Maria del Popolo (Augustinians), la Madonna del Carmine (Carmelites) are waiting for you.
SECOND: Confess your sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation at one of the four major basilicas, Saint John Lateran (Franciscan confessors), Saint Paul outside the Walls (Benedictine confessors), Saint Peter Basilica (Franciscan confessors). Santa Maria Maggiore (Dominican confessors) is the closest to Rome’s Termini train station, a 5-10 minute walk. Ask about the conditions to receive a plenary indulgence. Dominicans have been confessors at Santa Maria Maggiore since the 16th century at the invitation of the Dominican Pope, St. Pope Pius V (1504-1572). Go to your preferred confessor and experience the your renewed spiritual state in the company of Roman martyrs and Saints.
Rome, Santa Maria Maggiore --
Europe’ first country to be dramatically hit with the Cronavirus was Italy which went into lockdown early-March. People could not leave their regions separating families – or even their homes. In Rome, like other parts of Italy, movement was only possible with a self-declaration form justifying reasons for going outdoors. Medicine, groceries, walking a dog were permitted. Government emergency acts meant Churches cancelled liturgical services and shockingly even the city of Rome fell into dead silence. As the world watched Italy from their screens, a mysterious virus would spread across soon implementing Italy’s lockdown laws.
On Friday March 27th, Pope Francis addressed the world from Rome, and held Eucharistic Adoration at St. Peter’s under the portico facing an empty rainy square. The surreal image was experienced for those who prayed with the Pope live-stream.
What about the Sacraments in the eternal city? Interdictions came from the Italian government with State of Emergency measures beginning in March. The closure of Churches which was determined by Bishops was controversial. When Cardinal Angelo De Donatis the Cardinal Vicar of Rome executed the order to close all of Rome’s Churches, Catholics reacted bitterly to the Cardinal's decision on social media -- a city not only with parishes, but shrines, monasteries, and religious institutes. Papal intervention offered hope some Churches would remain open, unlike the De Donatis decree where all Churches were to be closed.
Fr. David Bellusci, O.P.
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