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Pope Celebrates Palm Sunday Mass in Empty Saint Peter’s Basilica

Pope Francis holds a palm branch as he celebrates Palm Sunday Mass behind closed doors in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, April 5, 2020, during the lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus.

Pope Francis Sunday urged young people to look at the real heroes now, as the world is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. In his Palm Sunday mass in an empty Saint Peter’s Basilica, he said the real heroes are those giving of themselves to serve others.

Pope Francis celebrated Palm Sunday Mass behind closed doors and with no audience from the Altar of the Chair at the back of Saint Peter’s Basilica. It was the start of a Holy Week unlike any experienced before at the Vatican or elsewhere in the world.

Addressing the world’s faithful, who watched on television or on the Internet, Pope Francis told them to have courage in the tragedy of the pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, and in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon people’s hearts.

The pope said that “the tragedy we are experiencing summons us to take seriously the things that are serious, and not to be caught up in those that matter less; to rediscover that life is of no use if not used to serve others.”

The pope urged the faithful to reach out to those who are suffering and those most in need. He told them not to be concerned with what they lack, but with what good can be done for others.

“Loving, praying, forgiving, caring for others, in the family and in society: all this can certainly be difficult. It can feel like a via crucis,” the pope said, referring to the Way of the Cross.

The pope told young people to look at the real heroes who come to light in these days. They are not famous, rich and successful people, he said, rather, they are those who
are giving themselves in order to serve others. “Feel called yourselves to put your lives on the line,” he said.