Pope Francis marked a surreal Palm Sunday in an empty St. Peter's Basilica, urging people living through the coronavirus pandemic not to be so concerned with what they lack but how they can ease the suffering of others.

The service, kicking off Holy Week events leading to Easter, usually attracts tens of thousands of people to a St. Peter's Square bedecked with olive and palm trees. The service normally includes a long procession of cardinals, priests and faithful carrying palm fronds.

This time, it was held from a secondary altar behind the main one Francis normally uses and attended by only about two dozen people, including a few aides, nuns and a scaled-down choir, all practicing social distancing.

The symbolic procession was only several meters long and a few potted olive trees were brought in.

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Associated Press 11 May 2020 11:44 CEST

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