By Cian Molloy - 23 March, 2020
The pope is to deliver an extraordinary Urbi et Orbi address and apostolic blessing on Friday and he also wishes all Christians to unite with him in saying the ‘Our Father’ on Wednesday, Feast of the Annunciation.
Speaking before yesterday’s Angelus prayer in the Vatican, Pope Francis invited “heads of Churches, leaders of every Christian community, together with all Christians of the various confessions” to invoke Almighty God and to recite “the prayer that Jesus, Our Lord, taught us”.
“In these trying days, while humanity trembles due to the thread of the pandemic, I would like to propose to all Christians that together we lift our voices towards Heaven,” said the pope, who is due to start reciting the ‘Our Father’ at 11am, Rome time, which is 10am Irish time.
He said: “May the Lord listen to the united prayer of all of His disciples who are preparing themselves to celebrate the victory of the Risen Christ.”
In these unprecedented times, for the second time, the pope gave his Sunday morning, pre-Angelus address from the Vatican library. Normally, the pontiff would give this weekly address from a balcony overlooking St Peter’s Square, but the square has been closed on the advice of the Italian public authorities.
Italy is now the country worst affected by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, with more fatalities than China where the pandemic originated. So far, nearly 5,500 Italians have been killed by Covid-19; in Ireland the virus has killed four.
More extraordinary perhaps than Wednesday’s worldwide Pater Noster/Ár nAthair is the pope’s announcement that he will deliver a special Urbi et Orbi apostolic blessing and address. This is something that usually only occurs on Christmas Day and on Easter Sunday.
Friday’s ceremonies will consist of readings from the Scriptures, prayers of supplication, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, with the pope presiding from the sagrato of St Peter’s Basilica, the area immediately in front of the church building.
Catholics who obtain the Urbi et Orbi blessing via the media receive an indulgence, subject to the conditions that apply to the remission of temporal punishment due to sin.