The Anglican church in Venice, like the other churches in the city, was not able to hold services on Ash Wednesday by order of the regional authorities, nor on the first Sunday of Lent. Nevertheless, the doors of the church were open during the times set for services so that people could use the building for private prayer. Bishop David Hamid, the lead bishop for Venice, has been in regular contact with the diocese and advice has come from it on how to administer Holy Communion, with no shaking of hands for the “peace.” Fortunately, as yet no information has emerged of a member of the church having contracted the virus, nor of anyone within the wider Anglophone community living in Venice, nor on the neighbouring mainland. At present we are in a “state of limbo” not knowing when we might be able to return to a more normal routine or what might be possible in the future. Each day carries the fear of succumbing to the virus. We are grateful for the emails of support and the offer of prayer that we have received.
What seems somewhat paradoxical is that the two churches which form part of the great panoramic view of Venice—Santa Maria della Salute, and Il Redentore—were built as acts of thanksgiving for the ending of successive plagues. On particular days each year for 400 years, and even today, Masses of thanksgiving are celebrated in these churches and popular traditions associated with those historical events observed. However, when a contemporary “plague” hits the city, a ban is issued preventing them from offering public worship. Hopefully, however, the day will quickly come when, within these same churches, a public thanksgiving will be offered for the speedy demise of the coronavirus and all who helped to combat it.
On March 2, Sims sent the following update:
The restrictive measures are in place through Sunday 8th March, with some slight variations from region to region. Religious services can be held provided people do not group together and a distance of at least a metre is kept between persons. This is a difficult criterion to meet. We have suspended all midweek activities and worship as have the Catholic and Protestant churches. We are evaluating if the criteria can be met on Sunday.
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