Easter was very quiet here as it was for tens of millions, probably hundreds of million of Christians around the world due to restrictions imposed by the coronavirus. I had expected to “attend” Mass in the Catholic America parish of St. Patrick’s as the priests and lectors and our cantor, as they have done for weeks for the Sunday Masses, had all done their individual parts via video segments filmed at home and in church, and the segments were the all put together by talented Paulist Fathers in NY and DC.

However, I awoke to find I was without my landline phone and Internet, so I could not watch that Mass online as expected. I was able to watch Pope Francis’ Mass and powerful Urbi et Orbi address and blessings on EWTN.

Pope Francis spoke about contagion, principally the contagion of hope. As vaticannews reminded us: “Pope Francis’ Urbi et Orbi message on Easter Sunday challenges us to ban indifference, self-centredness, division and forgetfulness during this time of Covid-19 – and to spread the ‘contagion’ of hope.”

Definitely food for thought on this very different Easter Sunday.

EWTN broke away briefly at the end of Mass and, as I sought to see if anyone else was carrying the papal Mass and Urbi et Orbi, I was delighted to find that Fox News channel had transmitted the entire Mass and was transmitting the Urbi et Orbi as I tuned in! In fact their Sunday correspondents spoke about faith and hope and Easter after the transmission but also, for some time, kept images of St. Peter’s Basilica on a split screen!

I did celebrate the day with my usual Sunday brunch – this week wonderful, crispy bacon, scrambled eggs, toast and jelly and a mimosa!

I look forward to returning to Homebaked for brunch as soon as restrictions are lifted on places that serve food. My favorite is their great bacon and savory French toast combination!

I was able to do a few things during the day on my cell phone but basically found non-Internet things to do, being locked in my home and locked out of cyberspace.

Yesterday was Easter Monday – Pasquetta or Little Easter – and is also known here as Monday of the Angel, a big holiday in Italy. This day recalls the meeting between the women who went to Jesus’ tomb, sad to see it empty but then rejoicing when an angel comforted them, saying the Savior had risen!

Italians typically dedicate Easter Monday to family outings, most often celebrating a picnic meal at midday. If you google Pasquetta or Little Easter, chances are you’ll find more menus for picnics than you will information on its history!  However, I am sure the only family picnics took place on balconies or terraces this year!

And the weather on Easter Sunday and Monday was superb – sunny, blue skies and about 70 degrees!

By the way, the noon prayer in this post-Easter time is the Regina Coeli, not the Angelus.

Allow me to offer some beautiful words pronounced by Pope Benedict on Easter Monday 2012, his last pasquetta as pontiff,** that have always been seared into my mind and heart: He noted that the Gospel writers do not describe the Resurrection itself. “That event remains mysterious – not as something unreal, but as something beyond the reach of our knowledge – as a light so bright the eyes cannot bear it.”

Benedict said, “the Gospel narration begins with the morning after the sabbath when the women run to the sepulchre, find it empty and hear an angel tell them the Lord has risen. As they run in turn to tell the disciples, they meet Jesus….”

“In those days in Israel,” said Benedict, “women’s testimony could have no official legal value. Nevertheless, women have experienced a special bond with the Lord, that is fundamental to the day-to-day life of the Christian community, and this is always true, in every age, not only at the beginning of the Church’s pilgrim journey.”

The Pope emeritus stressed how, “in all the Gospels, women play a big role in the stories of the appearance of the resurrected Jesus, and also in the passion and death of Jesus.”

** Pope Francis was elected to the papacy on March 13, 2013 and Easter that year fell on March 31st.

Part of my Easter Monday was spent working on a computer virus. I am starting to dislike the number 13! On Friday, March 13 I arrived back in Italy from NYC to find I was joining millions in quarantine. And yesterday, April 13 there was another kind of virus

By the way, the Vatican said in a communique today that, “Following up on the press release of April 3, the Holy See extends until May 3 all the measures that have been adopted to date to deal with the health emergency from Covid-19.” 

Following is an interesting article about disinfecting historic sites during the coronavirus era. It is from Atlas Obscura, a fascinating website that offers daily emails with some of their interesting and unusual stories.  I subscribe and never let offers daily emails go unread. Fantastic if you have kids in school as well – a wonderful learning tool!


Unsung workers around the world on the front lines of the pandemic fight

By Winnie Lee, April 9, 2020

The Giza pyramid complex. The Leaning Tower of Pisa. The Western Wall. These historic sites and others all over the world are usually teeming with tourists, vendors, and guides. But as they close and empty due to COVID-19, the tourists have been replaced by other figures. Municipal workers from sanitation and utility departments, as well as volunteers, can be seen sanitizing these public places. Usually clad in masks, gloves, and protective suits, their job is often to pressure wash these famous spots or spray them with disinfectant.

Click here to continue and see photos: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/disinfecting-historic-sites?utm_source=Atlas+Obscura+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=b4e810dc8a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_04_13&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f36db9c480-b4e810dc8a-65778941&mc_cid=b4e810dc8a&mc_eid=5388373051



Several years ago, a good friend who worked for the Vatican, invited me to breakfast at a place called Homebaked in the Monteverde neighborhood of Rome. The entire menu was American – bacon, eggs, toast, waffles, pancakes, bagels, OJ, coffee, etc. – all those good things we associate with an American breakfast and miss living in Rome. I was thoroughly delighted, enjoyed a delicious, ample, homemade breakfast and went back a number of times, always wishing it was closer to where I lived.

Well, Homebaked has now come to me – their second Rome location has opened just over two blocks from my home on 25 Via di Porta Cavalleggeri and about 100 yards from St. Peter’s Square! I discovered it last week as I got off a bus and found myself staring at this familiar name and a beautiful, inviting window filled with brownies, donuts and slices of fresh pie and the aroma of American coffee brewing next to the sweets.

I immediately went in and there were my friends, the owners, Jesse, American and his wife Carolina, Italian. Big smiles and hugs all around and a promise to return after a press conference I had to cover.

I did return and had a late lunch, brunch to be precise. I’ve been back almost daily even just for a coffee and to say Hi. I took some photos, as you will see and was honored to put the very first pin on the Homebaked map of the U.S. where visitors are asked to tag the city they are from or where they were born. (I tagged Chicago!). The Monteverde café has such a map and the tradition continues of Via di Porta Cavalleggeri!

The new location is a jewel – a beautifully executed interior that just begs you to enter – warm and inviting and filled with sunshine – the colors as well as the atmosphere.

So come on over for breakfast, brunch (French toast, bacon and a mimosa, maybe?), lunch or a mid-afternoon piece of pie (or a few brownies) and coffee.

And spread the word! Tell Jesse and Carolina that Joan sent you!

As it says on one of its FB pages, “Homebaked is a warm tiny place, that feels just like Grandma’s kitchen.
“Homebaked will embrace you with its hearty homemade apple pie or pumpkin pie, brownies, cookies, cheesecake, cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, muffins and more. Everything is made from scratch from secret family recipes. At Homebaked you will also be able to find bagels, pancakes, American breakfast, and a vast array of sandwiches, wraps and salads. Last, but not least, Homebaked has real brewed coffee as well as espresso, the only Italian thing you will find here. Homebaked is the only real American eatery in Rome, run by Americans. It has quickly become the home to many expats and American students.”

Also this: https://www.facebook.com/Homebaked-Rome-173819339466563/