Pope Francis on Monday reopened St. Peter’s Basilica and Catholic churches held public Masses for the first time in two months in the latest easing of Italy’s coronavirus restrictions.
Francis said a private Mass in a side chapel where St. John Paul II was buried to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the late Polish pope’s birth.
The Basilica, which was disinfected on Friday to make it as cornavirus-free as possible, later opened to the public for Masses by priests on other side altars after the pope had left.
Signs in English and Italian told those entering that they had to keep at least 1.5 metres (five feet) apart, wear masks and sanitise their hands.
Churches throughout Italy began holding Masses under strict new guidelines worked out between the country’s bishops and government.
Faithful were required to wear masks, while priests could celebrate most of the Mass without masks, but would have to wear one, as well as gloves, when distributing the communion wafer.
The communion is to be given in the hand and not the mouth.
On Sunday, the pope urged Italians to observe the new norms in order to defend each other’s health and the health of the people.