(Source: MJ/Vatican News)

On Thursday evening, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, communicated that earlier in the afternoon, Pope Francis went to visit the Basilica of St Augustine in Campo Marzio.

He spent some time in prayer in the Chapel of St Monica, Augustine’s mother, in front of Monica’s tomb, on what was her feast day.

Pope Francis then returned to the Vatican.

This is not the first time Pope Francis has gone to the Basilica to pray before the tomb of St Monica. 

Exactly two years ago today, on returning from his Apostolic Journey to Ireland, he also went to the Basilica of St Augustine to pray before St Monica’s tomb after paying a visit to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, as is his custom.

His visit to Ireland included his participation in the Festival of Families, part of the World Meeting of Families.

Francis and the coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic – which infected a dozen people in the Vatican City State (the smallest in the world, with less than a thousand registered inhabitants) – has put a brake on the Pope’s public agenda, with his acts during the confinement being celebrated in solitude and with strict health and security measures, but broadcast live.

From September 2, after six months, the faithful will once again return physically to Francis’ Wednesday General Audiences, although these will take place in the San Damasus Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace and not in St. Peter’s Square.

Apart from yesterday’s visit to the Basilica of St Augustine, the pontiff has only ventured out of the Vatican three time since COVID-19 took hold: once on a ‘pilgrimage’ to the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore March 15, once to celebrate Mass at the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia on Divine Mercy Sunday April 19, and once again to Santa Maria Maggiore on August 5.

On Novena, the latest news on Pope Francis:

Faithful to return to Pope’s General Audiences September 2 in first sign of Vatican recovery post-COVID-19

26/8: In General Audience, Pope deplores “sick” economy, “the fruit of unequal growth that disregards fundamental human values”

23/8: At Angelus, Francis warns: “The Lord will hold us to account” for dead migrants, “victims of the throwaway culture”

Pope pleads: “Stop using religions to incite hatred, violence, extremism and blind fanaticism”

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