Pope Francis Celebrates Palm Sunday Mass Without Public in St. Peter's Basilica

Pope Francis celebrated Palm Sunday Mass without the public in an almost empty St. Peter’s Basilica on April 5 as the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the traditional ceremony in St. Peter’s Square.

Vatican News said it was the first time in history Palm Sunday Mass was celebrated by the pope without the public in St Peter’s Basilica.

The mass was celebrated with a limited congregation, the Vatican said. “Out of respect for Covid-19 regulations limiting large gatherings, the Mass was held without a congregation.” Vatican News said. “Millions of people joined the Holy Father, however, via the internet, radio and television.”

This video, captured from the Vatican’s livestream, shows the pope celebrating mass inside the basilica on Sunday. Palm Sunday Mass is usually celebrated in a large outdoor mass in St. Peter’s Square, attended by tens of thousands with olive tree branches or palm fronds.

Palm Sunday opens Holy Week leading up to Easter, which this year falls on April 12. Credit: Vatican TV via Storyful