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Children lead the way in Italy’s reduced Good Friday service

Pope Francis held a scaled down 'Way of the Cross' service on Friday in a quiet St. Peter's Square due to Italy's lockdown measures. The poignant procession saw children take the spotlight to share their dreams and fears.

Children lead the way in Italy's reduced Good Friday service
A girl hands the Cross to Pope Francis as he leads the celebration of the Way of the Cross (Via Crucis) as part of Good Friday on April 2, 2021 at St. Peter's square in the Vatican, during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Angelo CARCONI / POOL / AFP)

Rome’s famous Via Crucis religious service commemorated the final hours of Jesus’ life in an empty St. Peter’s Square, cleared out of tourists in compliance with coronavirus restrictions.

Crowds numbering tens of thousands usually attend the torchlit vigil, but this year only around 200 people looked on at a distance.

READ ALSO: Why is Good Friday not a holiday in Italy?

Candles were placed across the square in front of St. Peter’s Basilica to form the shape of a cross. The tradition goes that the Pope moves around the 14 Stations of the Cross, saying meditations at each one.

Children and young people of Rome observe the Stations of the Cross during the celebration of the Way of the Cross (Via Crucis) led by Pope Francis (Rear C) as part of Good Friday on April 2, 2021 at St. Peter’s square in the Vatican, during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

This year, children wrote these prayers. Boy and girl scouts from Umbria and schoolchildren from Rome read out their worship, stopping at each Station as a group.

Each prayer related the experiences of children to those of Jesus. In a moving homage to the 13th Station, when Jesus was believed to be taken down from the cross, a child told a story of an ambulance coming to take his grandfather away, who later died of Covid-19.

READ ALSO: Six Easter-inspired Italian phrases explained

Children and young people of Rome (L) observe the Stations of the Cross during the celebration of the Way of the Cross (Via Crucis) led by Pope Francis (Rear C) as part of Good Friday. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP)

It’s the second consecutive year the proceedings didn’t take place at the capital’s Colosseum, which by now have become an Easter tradition since Pope Paul VI brought back the service in 1964.

Easter Masses are due to be held across the Easter weekend, culminating in the key date on the Christian calendar, Easter Sunday, when the Pope delivers his message, “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world).

Member comments

  1. What a fantastic informative website.
    For my wife and I stranded in New Zealand since October 2019 because of Covid, and unable to return to our holiday home in Lunigiana, it really is a lifeline to the magic of Italy with its proud culinary heritage, amazing old buildings and fascinating culture.

    Richard Mortlock

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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