Pope Francis began the first of several Holy Week ceremonies held in an empty St. Peter's Basilica, due to coronavirus measures, on Palm Sunday, April 5.
READ MORE: Pope Francis is celebrating Palm Sunday Mass without the public, since the traditional ceremony in St. Peter’s Square was scrapped because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Normally, tens of thousands of Romans, tourists and pilgrims, clutching olive tree branches or palm fronds would have flocked to an outdoor mass led by the pontiff. Instead, Francis was leading the ceremony inside St. Peter’s Basilica, which seemed even more cavernous than usual because it was so empty.
Besides his aides, a few invited prelates, nuns and laypeople were present, sitting solo in the first pews and staggered meters (yards) apart to reduce the risks of contagion.