Holy Week and Pope Francis' Easter services, which usually involve tens of thousands of people, are held without public participation due to the outbreak of the corona virus, which is considered unprecedented in modern times.
It was not clear how to reduce the massive events, but sources said officials were investigating ways to hold them indoors, including St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, with the participation of small representative groups.
A note on the Vatican Department's website, which organizes papal events, also states that until April 12th, its general public and Sunday blessings would continue to be seen on the Internet and on television without public participation.
The exclusion of the public from the general public of the Pope and the Sunday blessings should only last until March 18.
Holy Week services, which begin on Palm Sunday, run until Easter, the most important day of the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar for the 1.3 billion members of the world.
Palm Sunday, which commemorates Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, usually takes place in St. Peter's Square, which is traditionally decorated with olive trees while people are holding palm branches in the crowd.
Another important event of Holy Week, the Way of the Cross on Good Friday, takes place around the old Colosseum in Rome.
The main event is the Easter Sunday Mass and the biennial blessing and the Pope's message "Urbi et Orbi" from the central balcony of St. Peter's Square.
The Netherlands usually flies in tens of thousands of flowers to decorate the papal altar and the entire square, but the Dutch ambassador to the Vatican, Caroline Weijers, said last week that there would be no flowers this year.
Italy, which has been in a national ban for a week, is more affected than any other European nation. The country's death toll rose to 1,441 on Saturday and the total number of cases from 17,660 to 21,157.
The Pope, the Vatican – a tiny city-state surrounded by Rome – and the church in predominantly Catholic Italy had to change the centuries-old tradition due to the outbreak of the corona virus.
Catholic bishops around the world decided how to deal with the pandemic in their own dioceses and what guidance to give to believers.
In Italy and elsewhere, fairs were canceled to prevent people from gathering. The bishops told the faithful that they are under no obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and public holidays. The bishops have asked believers to participate through television and the Internet.
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