St Peter’s Square closed, Masses cancelled

St Peter’s Square has been closed to the public. The Diocese of Rome has cancelled masses until 3 April and announced a day of prayer and fasting.

Instead of meeting thousands of pilgrims in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis held his general weekly audience and delivered his catechism via livestream from the privacy of his library.

Francis sent out special prayers for prisoners, the sick and hospital personnel caring for them.

These and other measures follow the Italian government’s ruling suspending all public religious services, as the nation copes with over 7,300 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 366 deaths.

Although St Peter’s Basilica is closed and guarded by the Pope’s Swiss Guards, churches throughout Rome are open for private prayer.

Some parishes are also offering Eucharistic Adoration.

Religious communities in Rome say they have continued to attend private Masses in their residences.

Although the Vatican City State has its own legal order that is autonomous and separate from the Italian legal system, the Holy See is stressing that Vatican City’s measures are being made in coordination with the Italian authorities.

Other measures the Vatican has implemented include cancelling meetings and conferences, limiting travel for its personnel and closing the Vatican Museums to the public.

Closing the museums will also close off the Vatican’s main source of income for the foreseeable future.

Nonetheless, the Vatican ts trying to mitigate the dramatic economic impact the COVID-19 virus is having on Italy’s businesses.

These are showing a sharp drop-off in the commercial, retail and tourism sectors.

The Vatican is one of the biggest landlords in Rome, and has offered to consider rent reductions from businesses experiencing problems.

The nationwide quarantine in Italy restricts movement around the country and between regions. Restaurants and bars must close at 6pm and gathering in groups is forbidden.

People are encouraged to stay home, but may move around the city for work, to go to the grocery store or pharmacy, or for medical care. In public, people are asked to keep one meter of distance from each other.


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News category: World.

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