Pope Francis delivered a Mass on Sunday to mark Palm Sunday — the beginning of the Holy Week before Easter.
The Mass took place in St Peter”s Basilica. Like last year, the celebrations were scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Only about 120 faithful, including nuns and a few families, attended and were socially-distanced. They wore protective masks as did participants in the procession of 30 red-robed cardinals, but Francis was maskless.
Italy is continental Europe’s worst impacted country with more than 107,000 lives lost t COVID-19 and more than 3.5 million infections confirmed since the beginning of the outbreak, according to Johns Hopkins’ Coronavirus Resource Centre.
Half of Italy’s regions reentered lockdown in mid-March following a spike of infections blamed on the spread of new variants. These include Lazio, where the capital Rome and the Vatican are located.
The rest of the country will also be put under lockdown for the Easter holiday next week.