ROME – On Friday the Vatican published the official schedule for Pope Francis’s Holy Week liturgies, which will all be livestreamed from St. Peter’s Basilica without faithful due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“Due to the extraordinary situation that has arisen due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Vatican said in a March 27 statement, “an update was necessary in relation to the coming liturgical celebrations presided over by the Holy Father Pope Francis: both in terms of the calendar and of participation.”
“We therefore communicate that the Holy Father will celebrate the Holy Week rites at the altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica, according to the following calendar and without the gathering of people,” the statement said.
Confirmation of Pope Francis’s formal liturgical schedule for Holy Week and Easter came just two days after the Vatican formally published guidelines for priests from its office for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on how to celebrate Holy Week ceremonies without faithful given the global coronavirus outbreak.
Francis’s schedule for Holy Week is now composed of the digital celebration of Palm Sunday Mass on April 5; Mass of the Lord’s Supper on April 9; the celebration of the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday, April 10, at 6 p.m. local time, and the traditional Via Crucis, which this year will be done in front of St. Peter’s Square at 9 p.m. local time.
On Saturday, April 11, the pope will celebrate the Easter Vigil Mass at 9 p.m. local time, and on Easter Sunday he will celebrate Mass at 11 a.m., after which he will offer the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing, “to the city and to the world.”
Typically only offered at Christmas and Easter, the blessing offers a plenary indulgence for those who receive it.
In a rare, if not unprecedented move, Pope Francis will also offer the Urbi et Orbi on Friday during an evening prayer service that will feature scripture reading, adoration and a meditation from Francis. The event will be livestreamed on the Vatican Media Youtube channel, as well as on Facebook and television.
The only event not included on the pope’s Holy Week schedule is the Chrism Mass, which Pope Francis usually celebrates on Thursday during Holy Week.
According to the guidelines published by the Vatican’s liturgy office, the Chrism Mass can be postponed since it is not formally part of the Triduum, meaning the three days leading to Easter.
Typically, all priests from a given diocese participate in the Mass and renew their priestly promises to the bishop. During the liturgy, all the holy oils used in the sacraments are blessed by the bishop and then distributed to the priests to take back to their parishes.
The Vatican did not specify when the Chrism Mass for the Diocese of Rome would happen.
Follow Elise Ann Allen on Twitter: @eliseannallen
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.