Vatican flags are flying at half mast today on all the buildings of the Holy See in a sign of solidarity and mourning for the victims of Covid-19 and their families in Italy and throughout the world.
Yesterday the Pope received the Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte and the day before he met Rome's mayor Virginia Raggi.
Pope Francis has been encouraging Italians and the rest of the world in many new ways at a time when churches are shut, when Mass is celebrated in empty churches, when families are not allowed to be with their loved ones when they are dying and when funerals are no longer permitted in the usual way.
On Friday Pope Francis stood alone on a rainy evening in front of an empty St Peter's Square and gave the special papal Urbi and Orbi blessing (to the city and the world), a blessing which is only used on very solemn occasions, usually to mark the major Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter and the election of a new pope.
At his daily Mass at the Casa S. Marta chapel on 31 March Pope Francis's prayers and intentions were for the homeless at a time when governments throughout the world require people to “stay at home”. The Mass was celebrated live on numerous radio and television stations and on social media.
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