St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, where usually tens and thousands of people gathered to take look at Pope and harbour his blessings, was eerily empty in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.
Pope Francis also walked the otherwise empty streets of Rome on Sunday, and visited two churches amid Italy’s lockdown due to the coronavirus.
The pope, who left the Vatican unannounced after delivering a blessing from his balcony in St. Peter’s Square, visited both the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and St. Marcello church, Metro reported.
At St. Marcello, the pope prayed before a crucifix used in a procession during a 1522 plague outbreak in Rome, according to the British newspaper.
— Paolo Ruffini (@paoloruffini2) March 15, 2020
In a statement, the Vatican said Francis prayed for an end to the global pandemic as well as for those afflicted, their families and health care providers and the employers keeping essential retail outlets such as food stores and pharmacies open.
Images released by the Vatican showed the pope and his security detail walking the typically busy Via del Corso.
The visits came after the Vatican announced Holy Week and Easter services would be held without a public audience for the first time in modern history.