The pontiff said the health workers were “angels” for having “consoled and supported” the suffering and the dying. Italy's official death toll stands at more than 34,500.
Francis praised them for “those small creative gestures of love”, such as helping critically ill patients call their loved ones to see them or speak to them one last time.
“You were one of the supporting pillars of the entire country,” he said, expressing his “esteem and sincere thanks… to those of you here and to your colleagues across Italy”.
The Vatican mirrored Italy's lockdown, which was imposed in early March and lifted at the start of June.