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Tourists pass in front of St Peter's Basilica wearing masks Tourists pass in front of St Peter's Basilica wearing masks  (ANSA)

Covid-19: Churches remain open despite ban on large gatherings

Churches in and around Rome, including St Peter’s Basiclica are avoiding large gatherings in an attempt to help stop the spread of the Covid-19 Coronavirus, but liturgical celebrations are still taking place.

By Francesca Merlo

St Peter’s Basilica, though closed to tourists, remains open, and liturgical celebrations are still being held. Following the Pope’s example of livestreaming his daily mass, every day at noon, Cardinal Angelo Comastri recites the rosary and prays the Angelus from within the Vatican Basilica.

Italian and Vatican authorities are applying necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. This includes banning large gatherings, such as Masses with a congregation. But churches in Rome are still open to the faithful wishing to stop in and pray.

The Diocese of Rome held a Day of prayer and fasting on Wednesday dedicated to showing solidarity with those who are concerned about the coronavirus emergency.

The Diocesan Vicar, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, has invited everyone to live this season of Lent in a spirit of prayer, fasting and charity, especially on this day.

Despite the emergency, the Catholic Church’s concern for the most vulnerable persists. The Sant’Egidio Community, a lay association dedicated to social service, is helping some 3,000 elderly people in the Italian capital through a new initiative.

Volunteers are checking up on elderly people living alone, and doing their shopping. This allows them to stay at home, and minimise the risk of catching the coronavirus.

Sant’Egidio’s volunteers are also keeping several elderly people company through video calls, providing those who live alone, or whose families are far away, with comfort and support.  

11 March 2020, 16:50