Pope Francis will join the Italian bishops, along with Catholics throughout Italy, and the faithful throughout the world, in praying the Rosary on Thursday evening, to implore the intercession of Our Lady against the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
Pope Francis and the Italian bishops have asked all the faithful throughout the country to pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary on Thursday evening at 9pm Rome time, and to place a white linen and a candle in a window as a sign of solidarity and participation in the act of devotion on the feast of Our Lady’s spouse, St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church.
The Italian bishops’ TV2000 channel will broadcast the Rosary. Their live stream is available here. Other national and international media will carry the event, as well. Vatican Media coverage will be available on the Vatican News portal (top right corner of the page) and via Vatican Media internet stream, as well as via the Hispasat satellite in the Americas, the Ses satellite for sub-Saharan Africa, and the Hot Bird satellite for Europe and the Middle East.
“The Holy Father will join the Rosary from the Domus Sanctae Marthae,” a statement Thursday afternoon from the director of the Holy See press office, Matteo Bruni, confirmed. “He will introduce the prayer with a message in which he invites every family, every member of the faithful, and every religious community to turn to the Lord, that He might protect every family in a special way, especially the sick and the people who are taking care of them.”
“Tonight,” Bruni’s press release says, “we pray together, entrusting ourselves to the intercession of St Joseph, Guardian of the Holy Family, caretaker of all our families. The carpenter of Nazareth also experienced precariousness and bitterness, concern for tomorrow; but he was able to walk in the darkness of certain moments, always letting himself be guided unreservedly by the will of God.”
The death toll from coronavirus rose again in Italy on Thursday, as did the number of confirmed new infections. There were 427 new deaths reported Thursday evening, while the total number of current cases rose from 28,710 to 33,190. With the latest figures, Italy’s official death toll now surpasses that of China, where the outbreak began: 3,405 total deaths to date in Italy, while China officially registers 3,245.
The news out of Italy the day before was that restrictions on commerce and movement will be extended beyond April 3rd, while the country saw the single largest one-day official death toll of any country since the outbreak began.
“We’ve avoided the collapse of the system,” said Italy’s Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, on Wednesday evening. “The restrictive measures are working,” he said, “but it is clear that the measures we have taken,” to close businesses and schools throughout the country, “cannot but be extended.”
Conte did not say by how long the measures will be prorogated. “At this moment, it is not reasonable to say more,” he said.
Meanwhile, reports from the city of Bergamo in Lombardy — so far the Italian region hardest-hit by the virus — suggest that the strain on healthcare infrastructure and medical professionals has reached critical levels: hospitals report they have no available beds in their intensive care units, while one in five frontline doctors are sick in Bergamo, according to Italy’s La Repubblica, which quoted the president of the Order of Medical Doctors in Bergamo, Dr Guido Marinoni, as saying, “The scenario is apocalyptic.”
475 people perished in Italy between Tuesday evening and Wednesday at 6pm, the hour at which official daily numbers are posted. Authorities on Wednesday also declared 1,084 infected persons recovered from the virus. The total number of active cases grew by 2,648 between Tuesday and Wednesday.
The World Health Organisation’s Chief of Emergency Management, Mike Ryan, praised the Italian medical professionals, who are working around the clock under extremely trying conditions. “The number of patients who have gone into intensive care and have been saved by doctors and nurses in Italy is a miracle,” Ryan said.
Despite those efforts, the COVID-19 mortality rate in Italy was above 8% at mid-week.