Pope Francis' Easter Sunday mass was livestreamed this year, giving Catholics all over the world a chance to watch it from isolation or quarantine. The pope broke with tradition by putting the service online, speaking from an eerily empty St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Worshippers can watch the full service the Vatican's website or on YouTube.
Pope Francis' Easter service began early on Sunday morning in Europe — a few hours ahead of the U.S. Some extremely dedicated viewers may have gotten up to hear it live in the middle of the night, but for the rest, the recording should be just as impactful. The service is about an hour and 40 minutes long, and is available on the Vatican News YouTube channel. Worshippers can also find it on the Vatican News website, along with the full text transcription of the service.
The pope made no attempt to shy away from the news on everyone's mind — the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world. However, he felt that the story of rebirth associated with Easter was just what the world needs during this time — a world already faced with epochal challenges and now oppressed by a pandemic severely testing our whole human family."
The pope called faith and hope "a different 'contagion,' a message transmitted from heart to heart — for every human heart awaits this Good News." Further into the sermon, he became more literal, sharing his thoughts and prayers with "the many who have been directly affected by the coronavirus: the sick, those who have died and family members who mourn the loss of their loved ones, to whom, in some cases, they were unable even to bid a final farewell."
Pope Francis knew he was speaking to worshippers all over the world on Sunday, yet there was still an eerie effect created by his speech in a mostly empty church. He spoke in St. Peter's Basilica, with only a few other church officials and aides in the pews. They were spread apart in observance of social distancing, the cameras showed.
This is how Pope Francis has been giving all of his services in recent weeks as the Vatican attempts to protect its residents from the virus. He has also had to stop visiting up close with worshippers and grasping their hands at events. The historic shift is one of the most marked ways that the virus has fundamentally shifted day-to-day life.
Pope Francis' full Easter mass, and many of his other recent services are available on the Vatican News YouTube channel. For the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the CDC's website.