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Pope Francis back to in-person Sunday blessing

Pope Francis delivers his blessing as he recites the Regina Caeli noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, April 18, 2021. Pope Francis said he is happy to be back greeting the faithful in St. Peter’s Square faithful for his traditional Sunday noon blessing after weeks of lockdown measures. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis says he is happy to be back greeting the faithful in St. Peter’s Square for his traditional Sunday noon blessing after weeks of lockdown measures.

Italy later this month will start gradually lifting some anti-pandemic restrictions, allowing, for example, outdoor dining at cafes and restaurants in areas of the country where the COVID-19 outbreak has been showing signs of improvement.

A couple of hundred people, including nuns and families, standing a safe distance apart in the vast square, turned out to see the pope speak from a window of the Apostolic Palace.

“Thank God, we can gather in this square again,” Francis said. “I have to say, I miss the square.”

The past weeks have seen Francis standing at a lectern inside the palace to deliver his Sunday noon remarks via TV, radio and internet.

“Thank God and thank you for your presence,” Francis told those who showed up despite clouds threatening a downpour in Rome.

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