Vatican City: Worshippers gathered in St. Peters Square in the Vatican for the first time after months of being ordered to stay away as part of the Italian government’s measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Sunday, Pope Francis delivered the Regina Coeli prayers to the socially-distanced crowd.
“Dear brothers and sisters, good day. Today the square is open and we can return. And it’s a pleasure,” he said from the window of the papal study.
It was his first service in almost three months.
During the coronavirus lockdown in force in Italy and the Vatican City, he delivered his addresses via livestream.
With tourism in Italy still on hold, only a few dozen people — the majority wearing masks — made it to the square to see the pope.
Security officials managed the crowd to ensure that health and safety protocols were met.
Francis was received with applause.
Francis delivered the Pentecost mass earlier in the morning to a smaller crowd of worshipers in the basilica.
He warned against the emergence of narcissism, victimhood and pessimism during the pandemic.
There have been 12 COVID-19 cases detected in the Vatican City since the outbreak began.
On March 8, as Italian lockdown rules came into force, Francis moved his Angelus prayers to the Apolistic Palace, from where his addresses were broadcast online.
His General Audience events at St. Peter’s Square, which attracts large crowds, will remain on hold until at least September.
The Vatican Museums are set to reopen to the public on Monday after three months of closure.