“Caravaggio church” in Rome reopens following coronavirus scare

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St. Louis of the French is the first church in the Eternal City to be completely closed to the public because of the coronavirus epidemic. 

The French Embassy decided to close it after a priest, who had resided in Rome until mid-February, tested positive for the virus upon returning to Paris.

Only a day later, authorities decided to reopen it on Wednesday, March 4, following health experts' assurance that such an action would not necessarily increase the risk of contagion.

The French national church in Rome suspended all Masses and visits, a huge disappointment for art buffs hoping to admire the masterpieces inside during their time in the city.

History Professor, John Carroll University

“I'm here with a group of my students from John Carroll University, and this is one of the jewels in Rome. Three outstanding Caravaggios, so it's a disappointment not to see it. On the other hand, it is what it is. We're in a world where the coronavirus is moving rapidly, and it's a learning experience in itself just to be in a city that's grappling with this.”

While many passersby just happened upon the closed church by chance, others had deliberately scheduled a visit before arriving in Rome.

“I wanted to show her the Caravaggio. I don't know. It's stupid because every other church is open.”

While many were disappointed by this unexpected turn of events, some remained optimistic.

“Well, we [will] walk around, and we [will] see other churches. There are a lot of churches in Rome. That's no problem, but I think they shouldn't panic about coronavirus. It's a disease, and I think we should manage it.”

Luckily for these tourists, Caravaggio's works will be waiting for them when they return to Rome.

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