Vatican City, Mar 10, 2020 / 02:31 am
At his morning Mass Tuesday, Pope Francis urged priests to bring the Eucharist to the sick and to accompany medical workers, as Italy begins its first day of a nationwide quarantine.
“We continue to pray together for the sick and for health workers, so many people that suffer from this epidemic,” the pope said at the beginning of Mass March 10.
“We also pray to the Lord for our priests, that they have the courage to go out and go to the sick, bringing the strength of the Word of God and the Eucharist and accompanying the health workers and volunteers in this work they are doing,” he continued.
With a decree March 9, the prime minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, put all of Italy under quarantine through April 3, as a measure to slow the spread of novel coronavirus, Covid-19.
The quarantine restricts movement around Italy 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.
Previous decrees had already closed all museums and many tourist attractions in Rome. Public Masses are canceled, but most churches continue to be open for private prayer and confessions.
Pope Francis always offers a 7:00 am Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta where he lives. This week, the Mass is being livestreamed over the internet. The pope said March 9 he is offering the Masses for those affected by the coronavirus.