Pope Francis celebrates Palm Sunday in a nearly empty St. Peter’s Basilica

Apr 5 2020, 11:06 am

One week before Easter, Pope Francis conducted a small Palm Sunday Mass procession in a nearly empty St. Peter’s Basilica.

Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem to a rejoiceful crowd, an occasion mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels (the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), and marks the beginning of Holy Week leading up to Easter.

Holy Week honours the events on the last day of Jesus Christ’s life.

Typically celebrated outside in the presence of thousands of tourists, only a small number of pews inside the basilica were set out, with 13 people, each holding a woven palm frond.

The choir was also reduced.

Additionally, the basilica was decorated with green foliage as well as a potted olive tree.

In his procession, Pope Francis urged young people to remain strong and unafraid to offer their lives to help others in need in the face of the ongoing global health crisis.

“Dear friends, look at the real heroes who come to light in these days: they are not famous, rich and successful people; rather, they are those who are giving themselves in order to serve others,” he said.

“Feel called yourselves to put your lives on the line. Do not be afraid to devote your life to God and to others; it pays!”

Pope Francis concluded with a sentiment that life is a privilege and a gift that can only fully be realized when it is given to others.

“Our deepest joy comes from saying yes to love, without ifs and buts. To truly say yes to love, without ifs and buts. As Jesus did for us.”

The entire service was livestreamed and can be found on the Vatican News YouTube channel.