During virus, priests master livestream at Gothic church

During virus, priests master livestream at Gothic church

During virus, priests master livestream at Gothic church

Father Philippe Rochas, left, and Father Jean-Benoit de Beauchene pack up livestreaming equipment after holding a closed door Sunday Mass at the St. Vincent de Paul church in Marseille, southern France, Sunday, March 22, 2020. As mass gatherings are forbidden due to measures to prevent the spread of COVID- 19, priests are using technology to reach worshippers forced to stay at home. (Credit: Daniel Cole/AP.)

On a typical Sunday morning, Father Philippe Rochas greets roughly 350 worshippers as they trickle into the neo-Gothic St.-Vincent-de-Paul church in the heart of Marseille. This Sunday, however, he sat hunched over a webcam as he and his fellow priests prepared an empty meeting room to live-stream Sunday Mass directly to the screens of parishioners confined at home.

MARSEILLE, France — Recent restrictions on gatherings in France to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus have forced religious communities to adapt the way they express their faith.

On a typical Sunday morning, Father Philippe Rochas greets roughly 350 worshippers as they trickle into the neo-Gothic St.-Vincent-de-Paul church in the heart of Marseille.

This Sunday, however, he sat hunched over a webcam as he and his fellow priests prepared an empty meeting room to live-stream Sunday Mass directly to the screens of parishioners confined at home.

Father Philippe Rochas of the St. Vincent de Paul church prepares a livestream of Sunday mass in Marseille, southern France, Sunday, March 22, 2020. (Credit: Daniel Cole/AP.)

“I already realize that the people who see us online are very happy to have this service, as a kind of comfort,” Rochas told The Associated Press.

As he delivered a sermon to just over 70 live viewers Sunday morning, one commented on the site: “Glory be to god, amen,” followed by a prayer emoji.

A livestream viewer comments “glory be to god, amen” during a closed door Sunday Mass livestream at the St. Vincent de Paul church in Marseille, southern France, Sunday, March 22, 2020. (Credit: Daniel Cole/AP.)

By the end of Sunday, the video had accumulated more than 500 views on its Facebook page.

The French government imposed confinement rules in the past week. Those rules do not list churches as valid destinations on the permission forms required to leave confinement. But, Rochas decided to leave his church open for individuals to come and pray, up to a maximum of 20 people, who must respect the social distancing measures and barriers put into place. Lines of warning tape and red X’s cover the rows of polished seating at the church of St.-Vincent-de-Paul.

Father Jean-Benoit de Beauchene prays in the empty St. Vincent de Paul church in Marseille, southern France, Sunday, March 22, 2020. (Credit: Daniel Cole/AP.)

“We miss the real contact with our parishioners, but I strongly believe that in this new situation, we will reach new people,” he said.

France is seeing a rapid rise in cases of the virus, with the third-largest number of deaths in Europe.

Most people quickly recover from the virus after experiencing only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Church benches are taped off at the St. Vincent de Paul church in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, March 21, 2020. (Credit: Daniel Cole/AP.)

Church seats are marked to indicate the appropriate social distancing measures at the St. Vincent de Paul church in Marseille, southern France, Sunday, March 22, 2020. (Credit: Daniel Cole/AP.)


Crux is dedicated to smart, wired and independent reporting on the Vatican and worldwide Catholic Church. That kind of reporting doesn’t come cheap, and we need your support. You can help Crux by giving a small amount monthly, or with a onetime gift. Please remember, Crux is a for-profit organization, so contributions are not tax-deductible.

Latest Stories

Most Read

Latest Stories