Priests lead Masses outdoors in earthquake-struck Italy

The cardinal leading the earthquake-struck Archdiocese of Perugia-Città della Pieve in Italy has instructed priests to celebrate Mass outdoors amid fears of more tremors and structural collapses in the area.

Following consultation with political and emergency service leaders in the aftermath of the devastating October 26 quake, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti issued his instruction for the safety of the faithful, now recovering from the third earthquake in just two months. The prelate issued his message with one eye to the major celebration of All Souls Day, November 1, when, like the rest of Italy, churches in the Umbria region would normally be packed with worshippers.


The October 30 quake, at 6.6 magnitude, was reported to be the strongest to hit Italy since 1980. However, while it caused extensive damage to buildings across Umbria, and forced the temporary closure of Rome’s underground, some 150 kilometres away, unlike the 1980 6.9 magnitude event, which claimed 3,000 lives, the latest quake saw no loss of life. 

Situated close to the historic town of Norcia, the latest earthquake shattered both its medieval basilica of St Benedict and the Cathedral of St Mary Argentea, famed for its 15th-Century frescoes. Only the facades of the two structures were left standing. Meanwhile, some of the town’s Roman walls, damaged by the previous quakes, have crumbled. 

Further afield, the town of Amatrice, which had already sustained serious damage after the August 24 quake, was further hit, losing its Church of Sant’Agostino.

In his  Angelus address of October 30, Pope Francis said: “I express my closeness to the populations of central Italy affected by the earthquake. I pray for the wounded and for the families that have suffered great damages, as well as for the personnel involved in rescue and assistance. May the Risen Lord give them strength, and may Our Lady protect them.”