Vatican changes schedule of 2021 Holy Week ceremonies due to Italy's covid-19 restrictions.
The Holy Week and Easter ceremonies presided over by Pope Francis have been changed in line with covid-19 restrictions, for the second year in a row, with the Vatican streaming the services online.
Once again the ceremonies will not be open to the general public, due to coronavirus social distancing norms, however a limited number of faithful will be granted access to the Masses.
This year's calendar for Holy Week and Easter will be celebrated primarily in St Peter’s Basilica with a very small congregation allowed to attend, in accordance with covid restrictions.
The Easter Vigil on Saturday 3 April has been brought forward by an hour and a half - to 19.30 - due to Italy's nightly curfew of 22.00.
Last year's vigil was held at the usual time of 21.00 however this was because the faithful were not allowed to attend during Italy's first covid-19 lockdown.
Another novelty in 2021 will see the meditations for the Way of the Cross prepared and illustrated by a Scouts group, a Roman parish and other young people.
In pre-covid days the pope led the traditional Via Crucis ceremony at the Colosseum on the night of Good Friday. The last time this occurred was in 2019.
Here is the 2021 schedule of papal liturgical ceremonies for Holy Week and Easter released by the Vatican:
2 April. Good Friday, Liturgy of the Lord's passion, 18.00. Way of the Cross. In front of St Peter's Basilica, 21.00.
3 April. Easter Vigil Mass, 19.30.
4 April. Easter morning Mass, 10.00, followed by Pope Francis' blessing Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) at noon.
For full details of Pope Francis’ schedule for Holy Week 2021 see Vatican News website. Photo Vatican Media.