The loneliness of The Cardinal (2020)

Easter rites during COVID-19 time in Bologna

Easter, for the Catholic Church, is the heart of the whole liturgical year. It still has a sense of solemnity, not yet affected by the consumerism which has now almost completely covered the religiosity of Christmas.

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions however, the liturgies have completely changed: they have been reduced, sometimes even cancelled.

The Church had to comply with the security decree signed by the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte: the decree bans gatherings and public events. As a consequence worship places had to close.

In order to meet the spiritual needs of the believers, however, many priests are using modern technologies to bring liturgies into homes.

Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi has been among the first to embrace this system, in Bologna.
Raised by Pope Francis in the last consistory of 2019, he is currently the youngest living Italian cardinal and one of the 123 electors; Bishop of the city since 2015, he is well integrated into city life and traditions.

As soon as the coronavirus emergency started, he arranged behind closed doors rituals, made the diocese bells ring every afternoon, and ended an Easter novena with a solitary climb (accompanied by a few collaborators) towards the Basilica of the Madonna Of San Luca, a sanctuary on the hills connected with the city by the world longest portico. In its insides the Basilica guards an ancient Marian image to which many Bolognese are devoted.

The cathedral of Bologna has hosted rites without believers for the first time only recently. On Palm Sunday, the blessed olive branches were piled up, almost abandoned, on the back of the Church; during the Easter triduum, when he would be expected to embrace the entire population of worshippers, the  Archbishop is instead alone in his big church.