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Pope Francis’ Angelus Address Moves Outdoors as Coronavirus Restrictions Ease in Rome

Pope Francis after praying the Angelus in the Vatican's apostolic palace on March 29, 2020. Credit: Vatican Media.

Pope Francis will speak to a live audience once again as his weekly Angelus address moves back to St. Peter’s Square on Sunday after a seven-week absence.

The pope leads the traditional Marian prayer from the Vatican every Sunday at noon local time -- usually from a window overlooking the square, which is filled with people who come to hear him.

But since Rome was again put under stricter coronavirus regulations at the end of December and through January, the pope’s address moved indoors to a live-stream format.

While Rome was designated a “red zone” and then an “orange zone,” Francis led the Angelus via live video from his library in the Apostolic Palace.

On Monday, Rome’s region of Lazio became a “yellow zone,” easing some of the restrictions intended to control the spread of COVID-19.

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Under the eased measures, museums, including the Vatican Museums, reopened to visitors.

The Vatican Museums, after reopening in June 2020 when Italy’s strict national lockdown ended, were forced to close for another 86 days when restrictions again tightened in early November.

Pope Francis’ Angelus on Feb. 7 will be his second live appearance in recent days. On Tuesday, Feb. 2, he offered Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the World Day for Consecrated Life, which has been celebrated each year on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord for the past 25 years.

Late last month, the pope had been forced to cancel three public appearances due to a recurrence of nerve pain that struck him at the end of 2020.

In a private audience with an American news agency on Feb. 1, Francis said that he can usually feel when a flare-up of sciatica is coming on and his doctor will advise him to cancel or postpone events which will require standing for a long period.

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But, he told Catholic News Service, his doctor had told him to still “do the Angelus or people will say you are dead.”