(Source: MJ/Vatican News)
As Holy See authorities ease restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Vatican Museums and the Gardens of the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo are reopening their doors to welcome back the public after more than two long months of closure.
In doing so, they have decided to thank all doctors, nurses and medical personnel for the work they have been carrying out in public and private health facilities across Italy.
With over 233,000 reported infections and more than 33,500 deaths from Covid-19, Italy is one of the hardest-hit nations in the world.
Throughout the months of lockdown, Pope Francis never tired of thanking all medical personnel for their invaluable work, carried out at the risk of their lives, praying for them and for their families incessantly.
So, as a sign of gratitude, the Governorate of Vatican City State has announced that for one week, all medical personnel will have free access to the Vatican Museums and for two weekends to the complex of the Papal Villas of Castel Gandolfo in the Alban Hills just outside Rome.
A statement says the initiative will be valid at the Museums from Monday 8 to Saturday 13 June, while the Pontifical Villas will welcome health workers on the weekend of the 6 and 7 June, and again on the following one.
The Museums were opened to the general public on 1 June; the Pontifical Villas and Gardens are due to open on 6 June.
Of course, all visitors are requested to observe a series of guidelines, procedures and rules to ensure the safest conditions for all.
A brief communiqué released by the Vatican Museums reads: “We want, in this way, to join the universal feeling of gratitude for health care staff”.
“We do so with a simple gesture that is full of meaning and inspired by the conviction that Art and Medicine are unified by a higher purpose: to take care of the human person, in its entirety”.
The Apostolic Palace and Pontifical Villas
Built at the request of Pope Urban VIII on the remains of the Castrum Gandulphorum, a feudal castle belonging to the Gandolfi and Savelli family, the Apostolic Palace acquired its current appearance in 1660 due to the intervention of Pope Alexander VII.
The Pontifical Villas, where fresh dairy and agricultural products continue to be produced, consist of three different parts: the ‘Gardens of the Moor’, which are located at the back of the Apostolic Palace and are the oldest part of the residence as they already existed as part of Cardinal Visconti’s old villa; ‘Villa Cybo’, which was built by Cardinal Camillo Cybo and was annexed to the complex when Pope Clement XIV bought it from the Dukes of Modena in 1774; and ‘Villa Barberini’, which was built by Pope Urban VIII’s nephew.
The Italianate gardens surrounding it are especially beautiful.