June 1 (UPI) — Pope Francis on Sunday blessed a smattering of faithful from his apartment window in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City for the first time since the lockdown in Italy began March 9.
The pope recited the Regina Coeli to a gathering of only a few hundred people — mainly residents of Italy — compared with the usual thousands. They wore masks and practiced social distancing.
Francis has been leading the Sunday Marian prayers, as well as his weekly General Audiences, from the Library of the Apostolic Palace. And services, including for Easter, have been performed with only a few people at St. Peter’s Basilica, and appeared online and on television.
On Sunday, he celebrated a Pentecost Mass.
People entering St. Peter’s Basilica had their temperatures checked.
The Vatican museums will open on Monday, by online reservation only. Museums and other cultural sites throughout Italy will also reopen this week.
Francis implored people to pray for all those who have given their lives during the Covid-19 crisis, including doctors, nurses and all healthcare personnel.
He also urged healthcare for all, including the world’s poorest people.
“Persons are more important than the economy,” said. “We are temples of the Holy Spirit. The economy is not.
He noted Sunday is “National Day of Relief” in Italy, which promotes solidarity with the sick.
“You know that from a crisis like this, you don’t come out of it the same as before,” he told the onlookers. “You come out either better or worse. The human family needs to come out of this crisis more united and not more divided.”