Looking pensive and sounding subdued, Francis led the first of several solemn Holy Week ceremonies that will shut out rank-and-file faithful from attending, as Italy's rigid lockdown measures forbid public gatherings.
Normally, tens of thousands of Romans, tourists and pilgrims, clutching olive tree branches or palm fronds would have flocked to an outdoor Mass led by the pontiff. Instead, Francis celebrated Mass inside St. Peter's Basilica, which seemed even more cavernous than usual because it was so empty.
In New York City, Timothy Cardinal Dolan celebrated a virtual Palm Sunday mass from St. Patrick's Cathedral.
The Diocese of Brooklyn broadcast the Palm Sunday liturgy on the Diocese of Brooklyn's cable channel, NET TV, in seven languages.
The live masses can also be viewed on the Diocese of Brooklyn's website.
Palm Sunday solemnly opens Holy Week leading up to Easter, which on this year falls on April 12.
The Vatican has announced Francis will preside over all the traditional ceremonies without the public in keeping with lockdown measures in Italy and at the Vatican to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Among the usual events is the Good Friday Way of the Cross procession.
This year, instead of the customary candlelit procession at Rome's Colosseum, the Way of the Cross will be presided over by Francis in St. Peter's Square. The Vatican has said there are seven cases of COVID-19 among the residents or employees of the tiny independent city state.
The Diocese of Brooklyn will livestream its Easter mass this year due to coronavirus.
Sunday's mass will be carried on ABC7NY and our free news app.
The mass will also be streamed on our 'Localish' channel - 7.2 over the air.
Cable Provider Listings for 'Localish' Channel:
Charter (Spectrum): Channel 1240
Optimum: Channel 110
Comcast: Channels 790 or 1177
Verizon FIOs: Channel 467
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