By Cristina Cabrejas
Rome, Sep 2 (efe-epa).- Pope Francis held his first public general audience on Wednesday after a six-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The service took place in the San Damaso courtyard of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace and the number of attendees was limited to 500 people.
It was held 189 days since the last general audience with the faithful in Saint Peter’s Square on 26 February, when the Vatican imposed restrictions to contain the rising number of Covid-19 infections.
The pope described his experience as “caged” and continued to hold weekly audiences and Sunday Angelus prayers which were broadcast live from the library room of the Apostolic Palace.
Audiences will now be held in the smaller courtyard, with the faithful seated at a safe distance from each other after undergoing temperature checks.
The pontiff, who did not wear a mask, stopped to greet his supporters on his arrival but there were not the hugs and kisses of his past audiences.
He stopped to kiss a Lebanese flag handed to him by a priest and said a prayer for the country, which was hit by a huge explosion a month ago.
The 83-year-old kept the obligatory social distance from the faithful and greeted members of the Curia with a handshake.
“After so many months, we resume our encounters face to face and not screen to screen, face to face, and this is beautiful,” he said amid applause from the crowd.