Vatican City, May 19 (IANS) Pope Francis held a mass in the presence of worshippers for the first time in over two months, when the coronavirus pandemic forced Italy and the Vatican into lockdown.
Monday’s service marked the centenary year of the birth of Pope John Paul II and took place in St Peter’s Basilica, which opened its doors to visitors later in the day for the first time since March 10, when Italy ordered the closure of businesses and landmarks, Efe news reported.
From Monday, Italy permitted religious gatherings so long as they were held in accordance with strict health and safety protocol in place as the country tentatively transitions out of its lockdown.
Around 30 people attended the mass at the chapel of John Paul II, some of whom did not wear gloves or masks, which is obligatory in Italian churches and cathedrals.
Cardinals Angelo Comastri and Konrad Krajewski and Monsignors Piero Marini and Jan Romeo Pawlowski celebrated with the pope.
There was also a small choir of nuns, who had to observe social-distancing protocol. Choirs were prohibited for the time being across the city-state border in Italy.
Monday’s mass was also the last one due to be livestreamed.
The Swiss Guard were on duty to ensure that visitors to St. Peter’s Basilica were complying with the health and safety protocol in place.
Lines to access the landmark began to form early in the morning.
Visitors were not allowed to enter the square and their temperatures were registered before they went into the building.