Pope announces extraordinary Urbi et Orbi Blessing

Pope Francis is of course deeply concerned about the spread of the pandemic and the terrible suffering it is causing to some 300,000 people and their families, as well as the fear it has provoked in countless millions across the globe, and the great damage it is doing also to the world’s economy. Last Sunday, he walked “on pilgrimage” on a deserted street in the center of Rome and prayed before two miraculous images, imploring God to rid the world of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, he told his global audience: “We wish to respond to the pandemic of the virus with the universality of prayer, of compassion and tenderness.” He encouraged everyone: “Let us remain united. Let us make our closeness felt to those who are alone and to those who are most stricken.”

He told people; let us also express “our closeness to doctors, to health workers, nurses, volunteers” and “to the authorities that have to take hard measures, but ones that are for our good.”

He added, “let us show our closeness to the police, the soldiers who try to keep order always on the streets, so that the things the government orders for our good can be done,” indeed “let us be close to everyone.”

Christopher Wells writes:

Pope Francis on Sunday called for all Christians to respond to the coronavirus pandemic “with the universality of prayer, of compassion, of tenderness”, adding, “Let us remain united. Let us make our closeness felt toward those persons who are the most lonely and tired”.

Speaking after the traditional recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father called on all Christians to join together in prayer. “In these trying days, while humanity trembles due to the thread of the pandemic, I would like to propose to all Christians that together we lift our voices towards Heaven,” he said.

 “Our Father” on the Annunciation: March 25th:

Pope Francis calls on Christians worldwide to combat coronavirus pandemic with midday prayer on March 25.

On Wednesday, 25 March, the feast of the Annunciation, he has invited “the Heads of the Churches and the leaders of every Christian community, together with all Christians of the various confessions, to invoke the Almighty, the omnipotent God, to recite at the same time the prayer that Jesus, our Lord, taught us” – the Our Father. “On that day  on which many  Christians recall the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary of the Incarnation of the Word”, Pope Francis prayed, “may the Lord listen to the united prayer of all of His disciples who are preparing themselves to celebrate the victory of the Risen Christ”.

March 27th: The Pope also announced that on the following Friday, 27 March, he will preside over a moment of prayer on the sagrato of St Peter’s Basilica, the platform at the top of the steps immediately in front of the Church. “I invite everyone to participate spiritually through the means of communication”, he said. 

The ceremony will consist in readings from the Scriptures, prayers of supplication, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; and will conclude with Pope Francis giving the Urbi et orbi Blessing, with the possibility of gaining a plenary indulgence for all those who listen to it live through the various forms of communication. The blessing “to the City of Rome and to the World” is normally only given on Christmas and Easter.

He invited them to participate through “the means of communication,” that is, by television, radio or social media. He said that at the end of the prayer service he would give a blessing “Urbi et Orbi” with the Blessed Sacrament. Keen to share God’s mercy to people at this deeply troubling moment in human history, Francis said “the possibility of receiving a plenary indulgence” would be linked to the prayer service.

“We wish to respond to the pandemic of the virus with the universality of prayer, of compassion and tenderness.”

  Prayers for Croatia

The pope concluded his address by expressing his closeness to the inhabitants of Croatia, which was struck by magnitude 5.4 earthquake Sunday morning. The Holy Father prayed, “May the Risen Lord give them the strength and solidarity to face this calamity”.

He bade farewell by urging people to read the ninth chapter of St. John’s Gospel this Sunday, saying “it will do us all good.”

After delivering his message, Pope Francis went to the study window of the papal apartment of the Apostolic Palace and from there imparted his blessing to the empty St. Peter’s Square and to people worldwide.