As Italy continues to remain one of the most impacted regions in the world, Pope Francis prayed for an end to the coronavirus pandemic on Friday in front of an empty St.
Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Friday.
“My God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace,” The Pope said from the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica, where he normally draws tens of thousands of devotees. “Lord, bless the world. Give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts.”
“We have realized that we are in the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other,” he said. “From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace.”
Francis walked to a canopy to keep him dry and sat alone where he spoke of the pandemic that resulted to global lockdowns. He reminded Christians to stick together amid the crisis and remember their call to faith.
At the end of the service, he delivered a blessing, the “Urbi et Orbi” prayer, which is normally reserved for Easter and Christmas.
The prayer service was one of several scheduled over the next few weeks that will see the 83 year old pontiff virtually solo in St. Peter’s Square or celebrating Masses for Holy Week and Easter Sunday in the shelter of St. Peter’s Basilica instead of outdoors in the company of tens of thousands of worshippers.
The Pope also praised those on the front lines of the virus. Doctors, nurses, grocery store employees, health care providers, policemen and volunteers.
Coronavirus outbreak has hit Italy particularly hard. The country has more than 80,000 confirmed cases and more than 9,000 deaths. On Friday, Italian health officials recorded 919 deaths over the previous 24 hours.