Days ago at dinner with three friends, we were talking about the need for a very special prayer service or liturgy because of the coronavirus situation. I told them the story of Pope Gregory I who, in 591, for the plague that struck Rome, organized a procession of faithful to pray for an end to the plague

I said, for those of us who are believers in Our Lord and in the power of prayer and in miracles, think how inspiring it would be if the Holy Father were to pray the rosary for an end to the coronavirus scourge before the image of his (and our) beloved icon Salus populi romani at St. Mary Major Basilica and have faithful throughout the world pray with him for a miracle!

Corona, by the way, means crown in Italian and is also another word for rosary!

This could be done via Vatican media, the Vatican’s YouTube page, Facebook Live and with transmissions by the world’s television. Millions praying with Pope Francis!

And here is the story of Pope Gregory….


Pope Saint Gregory the Great, pope from September 3, 590 to March 12, 604, was both a humble and pious man. It would be an understatement to say he did not want the honor of being the next pope, but he did do everything in his power to try to save his people. He understood that the plague that had struck Rome in 591 was a chastisement from God, and encouraged the faithful to repent of their sins and pray for deliverance while he and the religious cared for the people of Rome.

Finally, Saint Gregory called for a procession to take place at dawn on April 25th. On that day the faithful first assembled in their groups throughout Rome and then walked through the streets of the city praying and singing as they approached the church of Saint Mary Major. The plague was so potent at that time that eighty people collapsed and died as they walked toward the meeting place.

Pope Saint Gregory met them upon their arrival, joining them in prayer as he took his place with them holding aloft the miraculous image of Our Lady painted by Saint Luke the Evangelist. As the procession neared the Vatican the participants all saw Saint Michael the archangel standing upon the cupola of Hadrian’s mausoleum as he sheathed his flaming sword. It was a sign that the chastisement had come to an end, and at once the heaviness in the air abated and the air itself seemed to freshen and clear. Indeed, at that moment the plague ended as the faithful rejoiced and lifted up their voices to thank the Mother of God.

“Regina Coeli laetare, Alleluia! (Queen of heaven, rejoice, Alleluia!)
Quia quem meruisti portare, Alleluia! (Son whom you merited to bear, Alleluia!)
Resurrexit sicut dixit, Alleluia! (He has risen as He said, Alleluia!)

(source: https://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/plague-in-rome.html)



As you may know by now, the diocese of Rome announced Sunday evening March 8 that no public Masses will be allowed throughout the diocese until April 3. A letter from Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar general of Rome, stated, in part: “The Church of Rome … assumes an attitude of full responsibility towards the community in the awareness that protection from contagion requires even drastic measures, especially in interpersonal contact. Therefore, until the same date of April 3, the communal liturgical celebrations are suspended.”

The cardinal will pray at the Rome Shrine of Divine Love on March 11, which will be a day of prayer and fasting. Priests in Vatican City and Rome may celebrate Mass in private.

As a number of people remarked to me today, they believe this is the first time in the two millennia history of the Church that Masses have been cancelled, including during wars, during the plague and other similar, threatening and dangerous times. I’ll have to research that!

No access to the Eucharist boggles my mind and breaks my heart! Hopefully viaticum will always be available to the sick and dying! From what I have seen, at least in and around the Vatican and part of central Rome, churches are open for prayer, but not for Mass. You can say the rosary before the tabernacle but not receive the Eucharist. My first thought was: Christ has been quarantined!

What is very interesting is that today, as I crossed St. Peter’s Square to film some segments for EWTN, I saw a huge line of people waiting to enter the basilica. It must have circled three-fourths of the perimeter!

And here is what I read in Italian and English on the megascreens in the square: “In conformity with measures taken to combat the coronavirus, a safe distance of one meter (3 feet) will be kept between persons.”

In some of the newer busses in Rome, the driver is seated in his own little cubicle, enclosed by clear plexiglass, with no contact with the public as they enter the bus from the front door. On the slightly older busses, there is no wall creating a separate area and now, on those busses, passengers may not enter or exit from the front door.

All we can say is…. pray and stay tuned!


Following is a link to yesterday’s Angelus with Pope Francis. It is interesting to see how many news outlets, in their first report, said the Pope had skipped his usual Sunday appearance. They had no idea that the Pope had indeed surprised pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square by appearing at his study window for a brief wave of greeting after reciting the Marian prayer in the Apostolic Palace that was carried live on Vatican and other media. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzY2qF8z9J0

Daily papal Mass at Santa Marta residence: The Mass celebrated in private form by Pope Francis in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence will be transmitted live every day from Tuesday, March 10 to Saturday, March 14 from 7.00 am to 7.30 am approximately.

The Wednesday general audience will be streamed live on Vatican media starting at 9:30 am.

Wednesday, March 11 marks the 62nd anniversary of Pope Francis’ religious life in the Society of Jesus. He entered the Jesuits on March 11, 1958.

In an interview with Vatican News, the Deputy Director of the Directorate of Health and Hygiene for Vatican City State gives details of the measures being taken inside Vatican City to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2020-03/vatican-measures-against-coronavirus-arcangeli.html