While you may have read about or seen videos of Italians in Coronavirus lockdown singing from their balconies to each other and to the rest of the world, different responses to the crisis have emerged in Italy.
From the North to the South of the country, many mayors have consecrated their towns and cities, starting with the Mayor of Venice Luigi Brugnaro, who on 13 March 2020 visited the splendid Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute on the Grand Canal, magnificently built by Baldassarre Longhena in memory of the relief provided by the Mother of God during the plague of 1630-1631.
Luigi Brugnaro, in his role as Mayor, wearing the symbolic tricolour band of Italian mayors across his chest, in front of the altar of the Madonna recited the prayer to the Virgin composed by the Patriarch of Venice, Bishop Francesco Moraglia, saying: “We are consecrating to Your Immaculate Heart Venice and our Veneto lands”.
Immediately after that, a petition was launched by the website Radio Spada to ask mayors to follow Venice’s example, and many did.
Sunday 15 March it was Siena’s Mayor who, representing the city whose patron saint is the Blessed Mother, by giving Her the keys to the city entrusted the protection of Siena to the Madonna del Voto, as had been done many times before over the Tuscan town’s long and troubled history, during battles and sieges. The last time was in 1944.
Among the numerous other authorities who have responded are the mayors of Sassuolo, Giulianova, Nettuno, Ventimiglia, Tagliacozzo, Terni, Vanzaghello, Casole d’Elsa, Siracusa.
In Ascoli the keys to the city have been entrusted to St Emidio, in Lecco the mayor entrusted his city to St Nicolò, in Silvi to St Leo, in Citerna to the Virgin Mary and St Michael Archangel, and innumerable other towns followed suit. Throughout Italian cities votes were renewed, processions held, rosaries, novenas and prayers said, like in Naples where a week of novenas to St Gennaro is still being recited.
Even Italian State Police on its Facebook official profile posted: “At this difficult time, the State Police entrusts Italy to this force’s own patron saint and protector St Michael Archangel, who reportedly stopped the plague epidemic in Rome in 590 AD. May his protection forcefully guide us for the safety and health of every citizen.”
Above this post is the Pietà, Michelangelo’s masterpiece, reinterpreted in these Coronavirus times by Como artist Mr. Savethewall (stage name of Pierpaolo Perretta), who shared it on his social profiles with the words “The thanks of all Italians to doctors, nurses, health operators, pharmacists and all those who are directly and indirectly putting all their energy into protecting our lives and that of our loved ones. You are more than heroes”.
The Madonna wears a mask and has a stethoscope around her neck, while the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ is replaced by the Italian flag.
The artist is from Lombardy, in Northern Italy, the country’s most affected region, with a total number at the moment of 42,161 cases, a number higher than any whole country in the world except the pandemic’s top 6, included Italy, now tragically surpassed by the United States. Italy’s total number of Covid-19 cases is now 101,739, with 812 deaths just in the last 24 hours.
The Como artist said:
You cannot explain in words the pain that a woman who loses a child can feel. Each of us feels the intensity of it in a different way based on our own experience, our personal experience. This is the strength of the image and of the profound value it brings.
But then he added:
I want the positive message to emerge just as strongly: this woman is the Blessed Mother and the tricolour is the body of the Son of God made man Who will rise again, just like Italy.