Today is International Nurses’ Day and Pope Francis today prayed especially for nurses during his daily Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday morning, noting at the start of Mass that nursing is more than just a profession, it is a vocation. Especially in this time of pandemic, nursing is marked by heroism – even to the point of giving one’s life. He has had daily special intentions at Mass throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Calling nurses “among the saints next door,” he also had a special written message is a number of languages for this special day that also marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the pioneer of modern nursing who was born in Italy on this day in 1820. (Vatican news summary below): https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-05/full-text-of-pope-message-for-international-nurses-day.html

One biography notes: “Known as the ‘Lady with the Lamp,’ Florence Nightingale provided care and comfort for British soldiers during the Crimean War. She helped revolutionize medicine with her no-nonsense approach to hygiene, sanitation and patient care and turned nursing into a valued profession.”

One of my favorite people, St. Marianne Cope distinguished herself in her care for victims of Hansen’s disease or leprosy in Hawaii by her radical (at the time) hygiene and sanitation policies. A Franciscan nun, Mother Marianne and her sisters started two hospitals in Syracuse, New York.

In 1883, Marianne and six of her sisters answered a invitation by Hawaii’s king to come to the islands to minister to the lepers who lived there, They were in Honolulu until 1888 when they went to care for the lepers who lived in exile on the peninsula of Kalaupapa on the island of Molok’ai. They brought all of their nursing skills to the island to assist Fr. Damien de Veuster (St. Damien) who had been there since 1873 and who would die in 1889. Mother Marianne promised her sisters that, if they adhered to their strict, successful sanitation practices, none of them would ever contract leprosy.



To this day the sisters still serve on Kalaupapa and none have ever contracted leprosy.

St. Damien’s feast day was Sunday, May 10.

In coronavirus news:

(ANSA) – Rome, May 12 – Premier Giuseppe Conte’s government has agreed to demands from Italy’s regions for an acceleration of phase two of the coronavirus emergency. As a result, regional governments will be able to give the OK for bars, restaurants, hairdressers, barbers and beauty parlours to open from Monday, May 18.

According to the government’s previous plan, these businesses were not to be allowed to open until June 1.    But now it will be possible for them to open on Monday when Italy’s other shops are set to reopen too. he central government, however, will be able to intervene if there is a new upswing in COVID-19 contagions.

I read the requirements for restaurants to open: reservations highly suggested, meals could be served in turns like they have on cruise ships, absurd social distancing, no menus (menu must be on a bulletin board or a throwaway piece of paper or digital, such as an iPad that can be sanitized), the wearing of masks at all times except when eating (seems like you wear them when you are conversing, not eating), if there is a small group that wants to dine together, there must be proof they are all related!!! I hope I’m wrong on the last rule! Sounds like good friends or colleagues cannot dine together!

The restaurant unions (and surely restaurant owners!) are up in arms, noting that the distancing requirements (each customer should have free spacing of 3 feet in front, in back and at each side!) mean that businesses will lose about 60 or 70% of their clients. At that point, why stay open? Sounds like a prison with food to me!


Pope Francis celebrates International Nurses Day on 12 May, noting that through the tragedy of coronavirus we have rediscovered their fundamental role, one that makes them “the guardians of life”.

By Francesca Merlo

Pope Francis opened his Message for International Nurses Day by noting that due to the global health emergency in which we find ourselves, “we have rediscovered the fundamental importance of the role being played by nurses and midwives.”

Those who put others first
He said each day, as we face this critical time, we witness the courage and sacrifices made by healthcare workers and by “nurses in particular.” They dedicate themselves “to the point of putting their own health at risk,” he said, adding that, sadly, this has been demonstrated through the high number of healthcare workers who have died “as a result of the coronavirus.

“I pray for them,” said the Pope, “and for all the victims of this epidemic”. “The Lord knows each of them by name”.

Guardians of life
“Nurses have historically played a central role in health care”, said the Pope. He noted that this year, on this exact day, we face the bicentennial of the birth of Florence Nightingale, “the pioneer of modern nursing.” He described nurses as “guardians and preservers of life” who never cease to offer “courage, hope and trust” as they administer necessary treatment.

Dear nurses
“Dear nurses”, said Pope Francis, “moral responsibility is the hallmark of your professional service”. Nurses are tasked with “continuous listening”, as they take care of women and men, children and the elderly, “in every phase of their life, from birth to death”, said the Pope. Before each unique situation, nurses do not only follow a protocol, but a constant effort of “discernment and attention”.

Carrying out the mission of Jesus
Nurses are amongst the saints next door, said the Pope. “You are an image of the Church as a ‘field hospital’ that continues to carry out the mission of Jesus Christ, who drew near to and healed people with all kinds of sickness and who stooped down to wash the feet of his disciples. Thank you for your service to humanity”, he added.

Healthcare provisions
Addressing leaders of nations throughout the world, Pope Francis noted that in many countries the pandemic has also brought to light a number of “deficiencies” in the provision of healthcare. He asked that leaders “invest in healthcare as the primary common good by strengthening its systems and employing greater numbers of nurses, so as to ensure adequate care to everyone, with respect for the dignity of each person”.

He expressed the importance of enhancing nurses and midwives’ professionalism and involvement with the suitable “scientific, human, psychological and spiritual tools” necessary for their training, “so that they can carry out their service in full dignity”.

The role of the associations
The Pope noted that in this regard, associations of healthcare workers play an important role. “In addition to offering comprehensive training, they support their individual members, making them feel part of a larger body, never dismayed and alone as they face the ethical, economic and human challenges that their profession entails”

A special word to midwives
Addressing a “special word” to midwives, Pope Francis noted that their work is amongst the most notable professions, “for it is directly dedicated to the service of life and of motherhood”. Today, too, he added, “the Holy Father looks at you with gratitude”.

Finally, Pope Francis assured all nurses and midwives of his prayers for them, their families, and all those for whom they care. Imparting his Apostolic Blessing to each of them he concluded, saying, “may this annual celebration highlight the dignity of your work for the benefit of the health of society as a whole”.