Pope Francis presides over a moment of prayer in an empty St. Peter's Square

Mar 27 2020, 5:49 pm

Pope Francis presided over a moment of prayer and “Urbi et Orbi” blessing on Friday to an empty St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Urbi et Orbi is a papal address, and apostolic blessing typically given on Christmas and Easter, and conducted by the Pope on solemn occasions.

The ceremony was livestreamed on Friday at 6 pm CET from the “sagrato of St. Peter’s Basilica, the platform at the top of the steps immediately in front of the façade of the Church,” Vatican News explains.

The Gospel passage he read began, “When evening had come” (Mk 4:35), and Pope Francis explained how it feels as though it has been evening for weeks.

“Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities,” he stated.

“It has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away.”

Understandably, the coronavirus pandemic has blanketed the world with dread and anxiety, and for many, it is a time where they rely heavily on their faith.

The Pope’s message is one of hope and unity. He explains that the world must come together and help one another.

“We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel, we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm,” Pope Francis continued.

“We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.”