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Rome Reports

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Pilgrims moved after pope's first public audience since beginning of pandemic

Six months and a pandemic have passed between this and this. 

With all necessary public health safety measures in place, Pope Francis didn't hide his joy upon taking this step toward normality.

“We are resuming our face-to-face, not screen-to-screen, meetings. Face-to-face. This is wonderful.”

The pope maintained a safe distance from pilgrims, and the maximum capacity of the event was much more limited than usual: only 500 people instead of 6,000.

“It was magical. The people were going crazy. It really brings a sense of peace to be able to see him from so close. They took our temperatures, and since there weren't too many people, because I imagine the capacity was limited, it was more comfortable. Everybody could sit down. We were able to see him from very up-close.”

“We were there by chance. I had booked tickets for the Vatican Museums, but we decided to take a walk around St. Peter's before. We saw that the entrance was open and that we had time to stop. It was beautiful and exciting.”

Although the General Audiences have resumed, Italy remains far from the normality. Its streets are still emptier than usual, though that has its advantages.

“Rome is deserted, which makes it perfect for being a tourist. I've talked to business owners. They complain that there are so few people. We're missing the important foreign tourism, but we, as locals, take advantage of it. We can enjoy our Italy for a while.”

In 2020, the coronavirus prevented the pope from going on any international trips. For now, his only encounters with the people will be his Wednesday audiences and the Sunday Angelus.

Javier Romero

Translation: CT