Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now

COVID-19

News >  Religion

Pope urges hope amid ‘darkness’ of pandemic in Easter vigil

UPDATED: Sat., April 3, 2021

By Nicole Winfield Associated Press

ROME – Pope Francis urged his coronavirus-weary flock to not lose hope even through the continued “dark months” of the pandemic as he celebrated a scaled-back Easter vigil service in St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday.

Due to social-distancing norms, only about 200 masked people were allowed to attend the service, which marks the period between Christ’s crucifixion and his joyous resurrection on Easter Sunday.

For the second year in a row, the Vatican cut out the traditional sacrament of baptism for a handful of adults to limit the chance of contagion. Usually a long, late-night ritual, this year’s vigil service also started earlier than usual to respect Italy’s 10 p.m. COVID-19 curfew.

But the service began in the dramatic way it always does, with the pope lighting a candle in the darkened basilica and sharing its flame with others until the pews slowly begin to twinkle and the basilica’s lights are turned on.

In his homily, Francis said Easter offers a message of hope and new starts.

“In these dark months of the pandemic, let us listen to the risen Lord as he invites us to begin anew and never lose hope,” he said. “It is always possible to begin anew, because there is a new life that God can awaken in us in spite of all our failures.”

Francis, who again eschewed a facemask, limped considerably through the service, in a sign that he is suffering through a prolonged bout of sciatica nerve pain.

On Sunday, Francis is to preside over Easter Mass before a similarly small group of faithful and deliver his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” blessing “to the city and the world.” Usually the Easter Mass and blessing is celebrated before tens of thousands of people in a flower-decked St. Peter’s Square.

ButThis year, Francis will celebrate the service in the basilica and deliver the blessing from the altar, to prevent crowds from forming in the piazza.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.