Rome, Italy: After Pope Francis, 83, showed little fear as the virus spread to Italy in late February, he has made his first visit since the Vatican’s Coronavirus lockdown on Saturday, though it was a monogamous affair for the crowd-loving Argentine because of the epidemic.
Francis visited the central Italian city of Assisi, the birthplace of his eponymous saint, where he signed his new encyclopedia – posing the Pope’s views on key issues – on the importance of fraternity and social friendship called “Fratelli Tutti” Is, especially during epidemics.
The text of the encyclopedia will be published on Sunday, the Feast of S. Francis, who lived from 1182–1226 and devoted himself to a life of poverty.
Francis made a surprise visit to a conference of the first poor classes and also stopped at the Basilica of St. Clair in the eighties, which contains the remains of Clare, the first female disciple of Saint Francis.
The gesture may be in response to the growing controversy over whether the encyclopedic translated title – “Brothers All” – excludes women.
The Vatican’s news website published an editorial titled “An Encyclopedia for All Brothers and Sisters” and asserted that the Italian title, taken from a quote from Saint Francis, “is not intended to exclude women in any way”.
The Pope’s last visit was in the southern Italian port city of Bari for a meeting with the Mediterranean bishop on 23 February.
As the virus had already begun to spread around the world, Francis instead rushed out through a live-stream mass, performing alone at St. Peter’s Square.
“Our sections, our streets and our cities are covered with thick darkness”, he said in his address to the historic march, describing the coronavirus “Tempest” as “putting everyone in the same boat” because of its surroundings. It rained heavily.
Passing through the deserted streets of Rome to pray in the two churches to end the epidemic, and their lonely move catapulted their isolation, but they were also seen by Catholics as a sign of solidarity and hope.
Saturday’s pilgrimage to the Basilica of St. Francis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, marks a milestone of the Pope’s slow return to normalcy.
Apart from suffering from an early cold, his health remains good.
“Everyone works in their office or from their room, using technology. Everyone is working; there’s no Idol here,” our reporter said in an interview with Pope’s biographer Austen Iveigh in April.
This included Francis, who live-streamed his daily mass from Santa Marta, as well as weekly Angelus prayers and general audience talks.