Sunday, March 08, 2020

Pray for Italy

The following has been reported on several news sites, and confirmed by an official communication of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (in Italian, on the website of their newspaper, Avvenire). In obedience to a decree of the Italian government, as part of the effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, “all civil and religious ceremonies, including funerals”, are officially suspended until April 3rd. This includes all public celebrations of the Mass, not excluding Sundays; the country is effectively under interdict. As this epidemic gets worse on a global scale, which it seems certain will continue for the foreseeable future, the hierarchies of other nations will have to address what it means for the religious life of their people. Obviously, there are innumerable Saints who have intervened in times of plague, but I would recommend that we also ask, on behalf of our bishops, for the intervention of St Charles Borromeo, a model bishop in so many ways. When Milan was struck by a plague in 1576-77, the city was largely abandoned by the civil authorities, and St Charles was the first not only to aid the afflicted, but also to lead the Church in prayer for deliverance from the plague.
St Charles Borromeo leading a procession with the relic of the Holy Nail during the great plague which struck Milan in 1576-7by Giovanni Battista Della Rovere (also known as “il Fiamminghino - the little Fleming”, since his father was born in Antwerp), 1602. This is one of several paintings of episodes of St Charles’ life which every year are hung from bars between the columns of the Duomo for his feast day (November 4th), and left up until the Epiphany.
The same subject by Guglielmo Caccia, known as “il Moncalvo”, 1614
The cross carried by St Charles during one of the processions in the summer of 1576, when the plague hit particularly hard, now at the sanctuary of Santa Maria dei Miracoli presso San Celso in Milan.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: