In the midst of this global pandemic, Italy, one of the hardest-hit European countries by coronavirus, with more than 30,000 deaths related to COVID 19, is starting to see the light, and, little by little, some returning to normalcy.
After a long period of lockdown and no public Masses, Italy has begun its so-called ‘Phase 2.’
While in Phase 1, the Vatican had closed St. Peter’s Square to the public, St. Peter’s Basilica (ZENIT was there, in an empty Basilica, its last day before the public closure), and the Vatican Museums, now one can — under rigid safety conditions–enter the Square and enter St. Peter’s Basilica.
ZENIT Senior Vatican Correspondent, Deborah Castellano Lubov, went back, after her ‘pre-lockdown’ special visit in March, to see what to expect for anyone visiting, or anyone in the area, interested in going.
Here, she explains, through her photos, exactly what you find each step of the way.
ONE, always make sure you are keeping a far distance from everyone, and once you are to begin your journey, make sure your mask is on, and your hands are sanitized.
Immediately coming upon St. Peter’s Square, on the right hand side, there are signs about how to enter the Basilica.
TWO, enter into the colonnade and read the instructions. Take some sanitizer.
THREE, pay attention to the distances marked on the pavement (even if, when the correspondent went, there was only one family before her.)
FOUR, have your temperature taken (via forehead thermometer.)
FIVE, proceed to security, and pay attention again to the distances marked on the ground.
SIX, after security, there is a little hand sanitizer on your left hand side, as the Bronze Doors are more or less to your left.
Proceed toward Basilica.
Entering into the Basilica, the security will be watching to make sure you remain masked and keep safe distances from everyone (even if, like the correspondent, she was alone there, besides one family with a little child, and another couple.)
By the Pieta, there was no one. She was alone.
SEVEN, by the Tomb of Pope Saint John Paul II, in addition to its usual sign, indicating that the area is ‘Only for Prayer,’ there is another sign saying to only sit or kneel where there are yellow dots on the pews.
The rest of the empty Basilica, more or less, remains as usual.
EIGHT, St. Peter has been roped off (i.e. No Touching His Toe For Good Luck)
NINE, past St. Peter, there still is always security watching to make sure no one breaks the rules, or try to get closer to roped off areas.
TEN, for the Choir, you can see certain measures for safety in place in terms of distancing and microphones hanging.
ELEVEN, at the area for Penance, there were signs explaining distancing and reiterating that masks are mandatory.
TWELVE, at the altar, where Cardinal Angelo Comastri, had a short time before led the Regina Caeli prayer this Month of Mary, Mary remains shining and as beautiful as ever.
Other side of the Basilica, was as usual except that, at that moment, one could not go into the St. Joseph’s Chapel.
The Chapel of the Chorus was closed.
Yet, one could see as getting closer to the exit, a marvelous beautiful light.
Once out of the Basilica, one enters into a basically empty square.
The bathrooms to the left of the Basilica, are open, but with various safety conditions in place.
I hope you have enjoyed this ‘tour’, if you will, and we hope you can enjoy it again, or for the first time in person, as soon as possible.
A Presto (See You Soon)