By Jim Fair

Pope Francis offered prayers on March 8, 2020, for the many people around the world who are suffering from the coronavirus.

“I am close with prayers to people who suffer from the current coronavirus epidemic and to all those who are giving care,” the Holy Father said. “I remembered them a lot in these days of my retreat. I join my brother bishops in encouraging the faithful to live this difficult moment with the strength of faith, the certainty of hope and the fervor of charity. The season of Lent helps us to give an evangelical sense also to this moment of trial.”

The Pope’s comments came from praying the noonday Angelus from the Papal Library of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. Normally the Pope recites the Angelus and provides commentary from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

The change in venue was made to avoid the risk of the spread of COVID-19 due to the gathering of people during security controls for access to the square, as requested by the Italian authorities. The same procedure will be followed for the Holy Father’s March 11 General Audience.

In compliance with the provisions of the Health and Hygiene Directorate of the Vatican City State, the participation of the faithful as guests at the Mass held in Santa Marta will be suspended until Sunday 15 March. The Holy Father will celebrate the Eucharist privately.

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