Pope gifts fresh milk, yoghurt to nuns in coronavirus lockdown as Orthodox head expresses solidarity with Vatican, Italy

Pope gifts fresh milk, yoghurt to nuns in coronavirus lockdown as Orthodox head expresses solidarity with Vatican, Italy

(Source: CD/Linda Bordoni, Robin Gomes; Vatican News)

The Papal Almoner has paid a visit to two congregations of nuns in Rome who are in quarantine because some of their members have tested positive to coronavirus.

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski’s visit to the Daughters of St. Camillus in the Alban Hills and to the Congregation of the Angelic Sisters of St. Paul in a Roman suburb was to bring Pope Francis’ closeness and affection to the religious, some of whom have tested positive to the new coronavirus.

The Almoner of the Office of Papal Charities took cartons of fresh milk and yoghurt produced by the Pontifical Villas in Castel Gandolfo, just outside Rome, as gifts for the isolated communities.

News of Krajewski’s gesture was reported on Monday in a Vatican Press Office Statement that said both communities have been put into isolation since last Friday because many of the nuns in the two communities have been infected by Covid-19.

Cardinal Krajewski, the official papal almsgiver, is the man who performs works of charity on behalf of the Pope himself, and is always on the frontlines of giving and sharing with our brothers and sisters most in need.

The press release said a donation was also made to the Pope John XXIII Home for the Elderly in southern Rome, run by the Sisters of Charity. The Home was placed in quarantine after two caregivers tested positive for the virus.

Italian health authorities

Italian health authorities in Rome’s Lazio region confirmed that 59 religious sisters belonging to the two convents had tested positive for the Covid-19 virus.

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40 of them belong to the Daughters of San Camillo convent in Grottaferrata, and 19 are from the Angelic Sisters of Saint Paul convent in Rome’s Via Casilina, which currently houses 21 sisters.

An investigation has reportedly been launched into how the infections came about.

The San Camillo convent specifically cares for young students and elderly sisters.

Speaking to the Italian bishops’ conference newspaper Avvenire, Sister Bernadette Rossoni, general postulator of the Daughters of San Camillo, said that overall “we are fine,” and that three of the 40 infected nuns are hospitalized, while the others are not showing serious symptoms and are at home in the convent.

She said the religious are facing the situation “with great serenity” and pointed out that the guests who stay in the convent have no contact with the sisters who have tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Those sisters, she said, remain isolated in their rooms, with meals left outside their doors.

“On the bright side,” Sr. Bernadette said, the sisters are nurses, so “we are prepared to face health risks and take care of the sick.”

Orthodox head expresses solidarity with Vatican, Italy

In the meantime, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has sent separate messages to Pope Francis and Italian President, Sergio Mattarella. In those message, the hierarch expresses his solidarity with the nation that is grappling with the pandemic.

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Spirit of sacrifice

In his messages, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians commends the spirit of sacrifice and courage that Italy’s healthcare workers are demonstrating. He also expresses his gratitude for the enormous efforts of doctors and nurses in assisting the sick.

At the same time, Patriarch Bartholomew expresses his closeness to the families of the those who have lost the battle against the virus.

In addition, he pledges that “during Holy Lent, he will constantly pray to the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, for the healing of the sick, eternal repose for those who died and comfort for their relatives”.   

Message to faithful: shut down services

Earlier, in a message to the Orthodox faithful, Patriarch Bartholomew called for suspending church liturgies and services until the end of March.

The 80-year-old Patriarch asked the faithful to respect the indications of authorities, beginning with staying at home.

He also thanked those who are fighting the pandemic, especially the healthcare personnel.

The Patriarch said he was joining others in praying so that science may win this war against the virus. 

The Eastern Orthodox Church is not in communion with the Catholic Church.

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It is the second-largest Christian Church, with approximately 260 million members worldwide. 

As the “first among equals” among all the bishops of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, based in Istanbul, Turkey, is regarded as the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians globally.

More on Novena on the coronavirus pandemic:

On coronavirus frontlines, brave Italian nuns rediscover meaning of vow to give lives for sick

Catholic coronavirus irresponsibility continues to put lives at risk in Italy, beyond

Pope’s Santa Marta Mass, 24/3: Francis thanks doctors, nurses, priests for “heroic example” tending coronavirus patients, warns against “poison” of pessimism

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Cameron Doody

Director and editor at Novena
PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.