Public Masses resume in Rome

Public Masses have resumed in Rome, 10 weeks after they were closed because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Although public worship is permitted, additional safety protocols have been instigated to ensure any remaining coronavirus infection does not continue to spread.

“To receive Communion again as a family was the culmination of our every prayer and desire during the quarantine,” one parishioner says.

“For the past two weeks, our children, especially our not-typically-pious three-year-old twins have been increasingly discontented with virtual Mass and were begging to ‘go to Mass and pray with Jesus.’ So this date of May 18 was a long-awaited one by our family. It was a simple Mass but glorious,” she said.

The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord this coming Sunday will be the first Sunday Mass with public attendance allowed in more than 75 days for parishes in Italy.

One priest, Fr. Gregory Apparcel of St Patrick’s Church in Rome, says he has been working on a plan to make it safe for the public.

“We are happy to be able to have public Masses once again, though we are cautious and worried that we will all carefully follow the protocols.

“The most important aspect is to offer the Eucharist to the faithful once again, as they have been fasting for over 10 weeks now,” he says.

At St. Peter’s Basilica, which has been closed since 10 March, volunteers from the Order of Malta are checking people’s temperature before allowing them to join the security line to get into the basilica. Markings on the ground indicate how far apart people in the line must stand from one another.

In addition, everyone going into the basilica must wear face masks. They must also wash their hands using a hand-sanitizer dispenser provided at the door.

Inside the basilica, (which was sanitized in preparation for the reopening) Eucharistic adoration, confession and Masses are once again available to the public. However, communion is distributed only in the hand.

Vatican workers are resanitising the altars and pews where Masses were celebrated with the public.

Except for the expanded space needed for the line for security checks, St. Peter’s Square remained closed.


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