Amid coronavirus pandemic, pope's Easter liturgies closed to public

Pope Francis offers Easter Sunday Mass in St Peters Square April 21 2019 Credit Daniel Ibanez CNA Pope Francis offers Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square April 21, 2019. | Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis' liturgies for Holy Week and Easter, which usually include the presence of thousands of people, will be held without public attendance this year.

According to an online notice from the Prefecture of the Papal Household, "because of the current global public health emergency, all the Liturgical Celebrations of Holy Week will take place without the physical presence of the faithful."

The Prefecture of the Papal Household is the office responsible for distributing the free of charge tickets which grant pilgrims access to Pope Francis' general audiences and other public liturgies.

Holy See spokesman Matteo Bruni said March 15 the pope's Holy Week liturgies are confirmed to take place, though how they will happen is still being decided.

"Methods of implementation and participation are being studied which respect the security measures put in place to avoid the spread of coronavirus," he said.

Bruni also affirmed that, "whatever the expected method," the papal liturgies for Holy Week and Easter will be broadcast live as usual.

Pope Francis' schedule for Holy Week begins April 5 with Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square.

The schedule proceeds with a Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, April 9, in St. Peter's Basilica.

Good Friday he is slated to celebrate the Lord's Passion in the basilica before leading Stations of the Cross at the Coliseum.

Pope Francis will also offer Easter Vigil Mass in St. Peter's Basilica and Mass for Easter Sunday in the square before giving the traditional "Urbi et Orbi" blessing from the balcony of the basilica at 12:00 pm.

These liturgies will all now be held without the presence of pilgrims or other visitors. It is not clear if the planned locations or times of the liturgies will change.

The notice on the prefecture's website also states that the pope's general audiences and Sunday Angelus prayers will continue to be held via video livestream until April 12.

Francis' Angelus address on March 8 and general audience on March 11 were held via internet livestream and live television broadcast from the apostolic library due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Italy is currently under a nationwide lockdown through at least April 3 to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Italian police also closed St. Peter's Square to the public March 10.

Italy has the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths from coronavirus outside of Asia.

This story was updated March 15 at 9:00 MDT with the statement of Matteo Bruni.

More in Vatican

Our mission is the truth. Join us!

Your monthly donation will help our team continue reporting the truth, with fairness, integrity, and fidelity to Jesus Christ and his Church.