Pope Francis made his first trip on Saturday since the coronavirus lockdown in the Vatican, although it is a lonely affair for the crowd-loving Argentine due to pandemic precautions.
Francis visited the city of Assisi, in central Italy, the birthplace of his saint namesake, where he signed his new encyclical – a document setting out the pope’s views on key issues – titled “Fratelli tutti” on the importance of fraternity and social friendship, especially during the pandemic.
In the austere tomb of Saint Francis of Assisi, Francis celebrated a dark mass for about twenty masked faithful.
The text of the encyclical will be published on Sunday, the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, who lived from 1182-1226 and devoted himself to a life of poverty.
Earlier, Francis made a surprise visit to a convent of the Poor Clares – an order founded by Francis of Assisi and Saint Clare – and simply rang the doorbell.
He also stopped at the Basilica of Saint Clare in Assisi, which houses the remains of Clare, the first woman disciple of Saint Francis.
The move could be in response to growing controversy over whether the encyclical’s translated title – “Brothers All” – excludes women.
The Vatican news site published an editorial titled “An Encyclical for All Brothers and Sisters” and stressed that the Italian title, taken from a quote from Saint Francis, “is by no means intended to exclude women” .
After signing the encyclical on the altar of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Francis expressed his gratitude to three translators from the Roman Curia, encouraging them to come to his side to applaud.
The Pope’s Lockdown
The Pope’s last trip took place on February 23 in the port city of Bari, in southern Italy, for a meeting with Mediterranean bishops.
As the virus began to spread around the world earlier in the year, Francis instead reached out through a live broadcast mass, performed alone in St. Peter’s Square.
“Thick darkness has gathered in our squares, streets and towns,” he said in the landmark March speech, describing the coronavirus “storm” as having put everyone “in the same boat. “, as heavy rains fell around him.
This, and his lonely walk through the deserted streets of Rome to pray in two churches for the end of the pandemic, captured his isolation, but were also seen by Catholics as signs of solidarity and hope.
Saturday’s pilgrimage to St.Francis Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, marks a milestone in the Pope’s slow return to normalcy.
Francis, 83, showed little fear when the virus broke out in Italy in late February, although he was forced to flee his usual practice of shaking hands.
In addition to suffering from a cold at first, his health remained good.
“Everyone works in their office or from their bedroom, using technology. Everyone is working; there are no lazy people here, ”the pontiff said in an interview with papal biographer Austen Ivereigh in April.
This included Francis, who was broadcasting his daily masses from Santa Marta live, as well as the weekly Angelus prayers and lectures to the general public.
While there are no papal trips overseas this year – for the first time since 1979 – the outing to Assisi is expected to recharge the batteries of a man who believes a priest’s place is with his flock.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)