It is a Palm Sunday – the beginning of a Week – like the Christian world has never seen: far from the usual teeming crowds, full choirs and vivid scenes, this time, the pandemic-induced lockdown of most of the world has necessitated a feast of sparseness.

Above all, that was the case this morning in Rome, where the Pope’s usual outdoor Mass for over 100,000 pilgrims packed into St Peter’s Square – led by scores of prelates toting 4 foot-tall branches – was all stripped away, replaced by a small group of “essential” ministers (above) at the Altar of the Chair, the secondary “chapel” space in the apse of the Basilica, where Francis will celebrate all the rites of this Holy Week effectively by himself.

Here, the video of today’s liturgy (with English translation):

Praise the Lord