‘Contagion of Prayer’: Italian Priests Stoke Devotion in Faithful Isolated by Virus

Clergy are ministering in quarantined towns, using old and new media to raise spirits and encourage a religious perspective on the epidemic

ROME—Bishop Maurizio Malvestiti celebrated Mass on Ash Wednesday in the crypt of his cathedral, in a traditional start to Lent. This year, however, there was no congregation.

Like other dioceses across northern Italy, Bishop Malvestiti’s Diocese of Lodi suspended services to comply with official bans on public gatherings intended to curb the spread of coronavirus. So this year, Bishop Malvestiti’s service was live-streamed on the internet. It drew more viewers than normally attend the liturgy in person.