Pope celebrates pandemic-aware Ash Wednesday at Vatican

In lots of locations, monks smudge a cross on the brow of the trustworthy, in an indication of repentance, however the Vatican pointers point out sprinkling as an alternative.

Francis did as instructed, although he eschewed the facemask. The 84-year-old pope, who misplaced a part of a lung because of an an infection when he was in his 20s, has been vaccinated in opposition to the coronavirus, as have most Vatican workers.

Throughout his homily, Francis mentioned Lent was a time to take inventory and rediscover a path to God.

“On this life, we are going to at all times have issues to do and excuses to supply,” he mentioned. “However proper now, brothers and sisters, proper now could be the time to return to God.”

Francis celebrated the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica earlier than only a few dozen trustworthy moderately than the Santa Sabina basilica on the close Aventine hill the place his Ash Wednesday service is normally held. The annual occasion normally attracts an enormous crowd given Francis and his cardinals course of way of the neighborhood.

For a yr, Francis has largely shunned leaving the Vatican amid journey restrictions and different measures to curb infections.

Italian officers have imposed particular person lockdowns in a number of cities throughout Italy in current days amid new virus clusters, together with of the extra extremely contagious variant detected in Britain. Well being officers have warned that additional restrictions could also be essential given a predicted rise in circumstances.

Francis is because of go to Iraq in early March, regardless of new lockdown measures there pressured a brand new surge of infections. The Vatican has insisted plans for the journey have been going forward.

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