Pope Francis cut a lonely figure on Friday as he prayed amid the coronavirus pandemic in an empty, rain-soaked St. Peter’s Square.
Instead of delivering the special Urbi et Orbi blessing (which is usually only reserved for the days of Christmas and Easter) in front of massive crowds at the Vatican, the 83-year-old pontiff was assisted by one other person ― who ultimately ended up sitting several feet away.
Photographs and footage of the service ― titled “An Extraordinary Prayer in the Time of Pandemic” ― were described by Twitter users as “haunting,” “poignant” and “moving.”
The images above are in stark contrast to the pope’s Urbi et Orbi blessings from years gone by:
Francis in his service likened the coronavirus pandemic to an “unexpected, turbulent storm” that has left people feeling “fragile and disoriented” but “on the same boat.”
Worldwide, it has so far sickened more than 613,000 people and killed around 28,000, also placing one-fifth of the world’s population into lockdown ― including Italy, where almost 10,000 people have died from the infection.
Check out the full service, courtesy of Vatican News, here:
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