For the second year in a row, the Vatican cut off the traditional sacrament of baptism for a handful of adults to limit the possibility of infection. Usually a long ritual, late at night, this year vigil service also started earlier than usual to observe the Italys curfew at 10pm COVID-19.
But the service began in the dramatic way it always does, with the pope lighting a single candle in the dark basilica and then sharing his flame with the others until the pans slowly begin to flicker and the basilica lights light up.
In his sermon, Francesco said Easter offers a message of hope and new beginnings.
In these dark months of the pandemic, let us listen to the resurrected Lord as he invites us to start again and never lose hope, he said. It is always possible to start again, because there is a new life that God can awaken in us, despite all our failures.
Francis, who again avoided a face mask, limped significantly during the service, in a sign that he was suffering from a prolonged period of sciatica.
On Sunday, Francis will lead the Easter Mass in front of an equally small group of faithful and deliver his traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing to the city and the world. Usually the Mass and the blessing of Easter are celebrated in front of tens of thousands of people in a St. Peter’s Square.
But this year Francesco will celebrate the service in the basilica and give the blessing from the altar, to prevent the creation of crowds in the piazza.
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