Millions of Christians mark Palm Sunday across world as Pope Francis leads mass without crowds at Vatican

Millions of Christians across the world today marked a second Palm Sunday during the pandemic as Pope Francis warned ‘the Devil is taking advantage of the crisis to sow distrust, desperation and discord’.

The pontiff traditionally leads a Palm Sunday procession through St Peter’s Square in front of tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists clutching olive branches and braided palms before celebrating an outdoor Mass.

But as Francis did last spring, just weeks after the Covid-19 outbreak erupted in Italy and the country became the epicentre of the European epidemic, he led the solemn service that begins Holy Week inside St Peter’s Basilica.

The usual throngs of crowds have been kept away by government restrictions on travel and other movements imposed during another Italian lockdown, as coronavirus cases surge across Europe.

In England, clergy broke into song as newly-eased curbs allowed small choirs to sing inside cathedrals – with three lay clerks at Ripon Cathedral in North Yorkshire among those performing the Sunday Eucharist.

Polish Catholics attended a mass led by Krakow’s Archbishop, Marek Jedraszewski, while Christian worshippers and clergy held palm fronds during a procession outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City.

And Christians celebrated Palm Sunday during masses at the Lady of Damascus church in the al-Qassaa neighborhood in Syria and St Anthony Church in Lahore, Pakistan, to begin the observance of Holy Week.

Palm Sunday is the Christian holiday on the Sunday before Easter, and ceremonies commemorate Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem through the laying of palm leaves, prayer and Eucharist songs.

In his traditional Sunday noon address after the Mass, Francis said that while shock dominated the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, people are now more weary, with the economic crisis growing heavier.

‘The Devil is taking advantage of the crisis to sow distrust, desperation and discord,’ he said, adding that the pandemic had brought physical, psychological and spiritual suffering.

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Source: Daily Mail