Vatican City in the wake of coronavirus

by Duke Magazine

Pope Francis delivers an extraordinary “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) blessing—normally given only at Christmas and Easter—from an empty St. Peter’s Square, as a response to the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at the Vatican, Friday, March 27.  Pope Francis said the coronavirus had put everyone “in the same boat,” urging the world to see the crisis as a test of solidarity and a reminder of basic values. “Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities,” he said, speaking from the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica into an eerily empty and rainy square before delivering the special blessing—something he normally does only twice a year. “It has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air … We find ourselves afraid and lost,” he said. 

The Vatican called the service “An Extraordinary Prayer in the Time of Pandemic,” a somber echo of an announcement by Italian officials minutes earlier announcing the coronavirus death toll in the country had surged past 9,000. 

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