Pope Francis marked Good Friday by presiding over services at St. Peter’s Basilica and visiting with homeless persons and others in need at the Vatican as they received doses of vaccines for the coronavirus disease 2019.
Wearing a mask, the Pope began the day by greeting worshipers in the atrium of Paul VI Audience Hall, where physicians and volunteers gathered to administer the vaccine.
Officials said hundreds of people have received the vaccine at the Vatican this week.
Normally, Good Friday and the days leading up to the Easter holiday see worshipers travel in large numbers. This year, for the second straight year, those normal activities were largely muted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Like last year, the Pope presided over Good Friday services in a mostly empty St. Peter’s Square. He participated in the annual Way of the Cross ceremony, which was read aloud by children.
“Dear Jesus, you know that we children also have crosses to carry. Crosses that are no lighter or heavier than those of adults, but are still real crosses, crosses that weigh us down even at night. Only you know what they are, and take them seriously. Only you,” the prayer began.
Passover, which marks the liberation of enslaved Jewish people in Egypt, starts at sundown on Saturday and ends with Easter on Sunday.
“There’s a real anticipation and eagerness for a lot of people to return [to normal],” Donald Iloff Jr., spokesman and senior adviser for Lakewood Church in Houston, said,
“There’s a lot of energy when you worship with other people around you … and I think that’s what’s been missed.”
To cut down on transmission of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges against traveling and gathering in large numbers for any kind of event. SOVEREIGNPH