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

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By Hannah Brockhaus

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2020 / 04:56 pm (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.

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.

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