Pope Francis celebrated Palm Sunday, which marks the entry into Easter week, in a Saint Peter’s basilica deserted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On March 15, the Vatican announced that all of the liturgical celebrations for Easter week would be held “without the physical presence of the faithful” in St. Peter’s Square.
This Sunday, it is therefore in an empty basilica, only accompanied by men and women religious, with one person per bench, that the Pope blessed the branches.
The Mass was broadcast streaming on the Vatican website as will next Sunday Easter Mass, the most important holiday of Christianity.
“Today, in the tragedy of the pandemic, faced with so many crumbling certainties, faced with so many betrayed expectations, in the sense of an abandonment that grieves our hearts, Jesus said to each of us: “Courage. Open your heart to my love. You will feel the consolation of God, who supports you, ”said the pope in his homily.
“I would like to say this especially to young people on this day which has been dedicated to them for 35 years. Dear friends, look at the real heroes, who appear these days: it is not those who have fame, money, and success, but those who give themselves to serve others. Feel called to stake your life. Do not be afraid to spend it on God and on others, you will gain! “, he added.
On Saturday, Matteo Salvini, head of the Italian far-right and former strongman of the government, had asked for the reopening of the churches for Easter. “I support the requests of those who ask that they are allowed to enter the churches in an orderly, correct and sanitary manner,” he said in an interview on Sky.
On Sunday, the mayor of Milan, the centrist Giuseppe Sala, on the contrary, opposed it. ” I do not agree. I think right now, faith can and should be something private and personal, ”he said.