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Easter ceremonies to go ahead in Vatican without the faithful

By Ann Marie Foley - 17 March, 2020

In the light of COVID-19, the Vatican Holy Week celebrations remain under review. However, for now they will take place with no members of the public present in St Peter’s Square.

The Prefecture of the Papal Household made the announcement yesterday (16 March) about the Easter ceremonies in Rome, but added that it is still uncertain how these celebrations will be conducted and who will participate in them, as this is currently under review and evolving. It is intended that the celebrations will be transmitted live via the usual radio and television outlets, and live-streamed through Vatican News.

With regard to the Pope’s Daily Mass, Angelus and Audience, the Holy See Press Office stated: “Faced with the situation that has arisen because of the coronavirus, the Holy Father has decided that the Holy Mass he celebrates in Santa Marta at 7am every morning will continue to be broadcast live.”

To comply with the rules imposing a ban on gatherings in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Holy Father’s Sunday Angelus prayer and General Audience on Wednesday 18 March will be broadcast live on television, as well as on the Vatican News website, and the images will be distributed by Vatican Media to the media that request them, “so as to reach the faithful all over the world”. As of now, other audiences will be broadcast via live-streaming on the official Vatican News website.

On Sunday (15 March), Pope Francis left the Vatican to visit two pilgrimage sites in Rome to pray for the city and the world. Pope Francis prayed before the ancient icon of Maria Salus Populi Romani at the Basilica of St Mary Major. Then, in what a Vatican spokesperson described as making a “pilgrimage”, Pope Francis walked along the empty Via del Corso and visited the church of San Marcello on the Corso, and prayed at the foot of a wooden crucifix that protected Rome from a great plague.

In 1522 it was carried in procession throughout the neighborhoods of the city so that the “Great Plague” might cease in Rome. The Holy Father prayed for an end to the pandemic that has struck Italy and the world. He also prayed for the healing of the many sick people, remembered the numerous victims, and asked that their families and friends might find consolation and comfort. His prayer intention was also extended to healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, and all those working to guarantee the proper functioning of society.

Earlier in March, Pope Francis decided that his daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta would be broadcast live. As of Monday 9 March, Pope Francis stated that the Mass should be available to those who are ill, in quarantine or, for whatever reason, unable to leave their homes.

The Mass is available through the Vatican News portal, and distributed by Vatican Media. The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, stated that that in this way, “those who would like to follow these celebrations, praying in union with the Bishop of Rome”, could do so.

Pope Francis initiated the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta at the start of his pontificate. Since then, he has received thousands of the faithful who attend in small groups. His homilies at this 7.00 a.m. Mass are always off the cuff and and summarised  by Vatican Radio – Vatican News and by L’Osservatore Romano. These homilies have become a high point for many people throughout the world, and a source of inspiration.

Before the current crisis, Pope Francis wanted this morning liturgy to be only for those present, and he denied requests for the Mass to be transmitted more widely. Now he has consented to the live broadcast of the morning liturgy so as to be near to families and to all those who are suffering.

For further details See https://www.vaticannews.va/en.

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