There’s rejoicing in Rome today! Most of Italy became a low risk Covid yellow zone today, and one of the best stories of that re-opening is that restaurants and coffee bars and the like may actually serve clients seated at tables – no more take away! I had several appointments this morning and as I travelled around by bus and taxi, it was a joy to see so many tables finally placed outdoors and so many people – all at safe distances, with hand sanitizer available – enjoying a mid-morning cappuccino and cornetto!

After months of very difficult restrictions, restaurants can once again serve dinner even though the 10 pm curfew remains in place. The last time restaurants were allowed to be open for dinner was October 2020! Since then, restaurants have either been closed completely or open only until 6 pm (so lunch only) for take-out. However, take-out still meant being closed for many places as that is just not the Italian way: you dine out or you dine at home or are the dinner guest of friends. Pizza is probably the only exception for take out!

It is a re-opening but there is a limitation: restaurants can only serve outside (so we all have to pray for great weather every day!). That’s good news for many but there are also countless restaurants that have no outdoor space. A friend in St. Patrick’s parish owns a wonderful Japanese restaurant but does not have a square foot of space for outdoor tables so she still suffers.

I celebrated the re-opening by having lunch at Homebaked and will go to La Vittoria for dinner tonight!   It is hard to fathom that tonight will be the first time since October that restaurants are open for dinner!

For more: What changes from Monday in Italy’s Covid ‘yellow’ zones? – The Local

And many Americans will probably be toasting to this news tonight! Vaccinated Americans will be able to travel to Europe this summer, says EU chief – The Local


Pope Francis meets with a group of Poor Clare nuns whose convent in the Italian town of Paganica was destroyed in a 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila, and says they have offered a sign of hope amid tragedy.

By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ (vaticannews)

Pope Francis on Monday met with the religious sisters of the Poor Clare Convent of St. Clare of Paganica, outside the Italian city of L’Aquila.

In his greetings to the nuns, the Holy Father thanked them for the support they give him through their prayers, and also expressed gratitude for the gift of the Easter Candle that they decorated for the Chapel of Casa Santa Marta.

He highlighted that the nuns are spiritually present at the celebrations taking place at the chapel through their gift of “the symbol of Christ, the light of the world.”

God’s loving care and solidarity amid tragedy

Pope Francis recalled the April 2009 earthquake that rocked the Poor Clare community in Paganica, injuring several nuns and causing destruction to the monastery.

He also remembered that among the quake’s victims was Abbess Mother Gemma Antonucci, who died under the rubble.

In spite of that, the Pope noted, “God made you emerge from that tragedy strengthened and, like the grain of wheat that must die in order to bear fruit, so it was also for your monastic community.”

“You experienced great pain, but also the loving care of your heavenly Father and the solidarity of many people,” he said.

He pointed out that on that night of the incident, the nuns lost everything “except God and fraternity.” From these points, they set out again with courage, first establishing a temporary structure, before reconstructing the monastery ten years after.

A fresh start

Now, he said, “your community is flourishing, composed of twelve nuns, all young.” Pope Francis added that, in the face of tragedy, the message the nuns have given is to “start afresh from God and from fraternal solidarity.”

The Holy Father went on to encourage the Poor Clares never to tire of being a prayerful and consoling presence in support of the people who have been sorely tried by the terrible experience and are still in need of comfort and encouragement.

“May the example of Blessed Antonia help you always to be poor and joyful women for love of the poor Christ,” the Pope prayed, urging them at the same time, to respond with generosity to the desire that God has placed in their hearts as consecrated women in adherence with the Gospel, in fidelity to the charism received from St. Clare and St. Francis.

The Holy Father concluded the audience by imparting his Apostolic Blessing and invoking the light and strength of the Holy Spirit upon the nuns. He also enjoined them to pray for him and for the whole Church.


POPE GIFTS AMBULANCE TO ARMENIA – Pope Francis expresses his affection for the people of Armenia with a gift of medical equipment, including a new ambulance. The Pope’s representative in Armenia, Archbishop Jose Bettencourt, delivered a concrete sign of the Holy Father’s care and concern on Sunday. The Apostolic Nuncio blessed a gift from Pope Francis for the Catholic “Redemptoris Mater” Hospital in the northern Armenian town of Ashotsk. According to a statement from the Holy See Press Office, the gift consisted in a new ambulance equipped with the latest mobile medical equipment and emergency respirators to assist patients with Covid-19. Pope Francis donates medical equipment to Armenia – Vatican News

POPE ANNOUNCES CONSISTORY FOR VOTE ON CANONIZATIONS – Cardinals will vote on proceeding with the canonizations of seven Blesseds, including those of Blessed Charles de Foucauld and of the first Indian layperson to be elevated to that rank. Pope Francis has called an Ordinary Public Consistory for a vote on several causes for canonization. The Consistory will take place on Monday, 3 May at 10 am Rome time, in the Consistory Hall in the Apostolic Palace, where he will preside at the celebration of Terce (Mid-Morning Prayer), with the Consistory following immediately. Pope announces Consistory for vote on Canonizations – Vatican News

PORTRAIT OF VATICAN CONGREGATION THAT SELECTS BISHOPS. The process is explained here but basically, when a diocese remains vacant, names are sent in to Rome as potential candidates. They are studied and vetted. Three names – a terna – are sent to the Pope who usually chooses from those names. If none suit him, a second terna is given to him. Read on…. To choose a bishop: a man for the Church, not a “ladder-climber” – Vatican News