Pope Francis celebrated Palm Sunday Mass inside St.
Peter’s Basilica without the public due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Usually celebrated outdoors and in front of thousands of tourists and pilgrims, the Pope spoke in front of a handful of priests, nuns and selected choir members who maintained safe distance from one another.
The Pope said, “Look at the real heroes who come to light in these days: they are not famous, rich and successful people; rather they are those who are giving themselves in order to serve others.”
“Feel called yourselves to put your lives on the line,” he added. “Do not be afraid to devote your life to God and to others, it pays!”
“Today, in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts, Jesus says to each one of us: ‘Courage, open your heart to my love.”
Meanwhile, parish priests in Rome went to the church rooftops to lead services so that the faithful could at least follow the familiar ritual, as Italy’s rigid lockdown measures forbid public gatherings.
In one church, a priest marked Palm Sunday by leading a Mass in the narrow confines of the church’s bell tower, so that the faithful who lived nearby could watch from their balconies and terraces.
Social distancing efforts do not only affect Palm Sunday practices in Italy, but around the world.
Jerusalem limited the number of participants of the march this year to a handful, where thousands of pilgrims normally participate.
Rev. Sandro Tomasevic, a Catholic clergyman at the Latin Parish of Jerusalem said, “This year because of the new situation we are trying to come to all the Christians in our Christian Quarter to bring these branches of olives, the sign of new hope.”