By Melissa Butz
An Easter Triduum unlike any ever before begins worldwide.
Catholics are following the liturgies of Holy Week, all being streamed online.
Those held at the Vatican are no exception.
The Eternal City, which holds many relics surrounding Jesus’ passion, typically sees one
million tourists during Holy Week. But this year, Holy Thursday has never looked so empty.
It was a stunning image: Pope Francis, with only his closest collaborators, commemorated the institution of the Eucharist.
During the Mass, the pontiff addressed his homily to priests, especially those serving in this crisis.
“These days, more than 60 priests died in Italy for caring for the sick in the hospital. Also with the doctors, nurses – they are the saints of this time,” said Pope Francis.
He also remembered that priests, like bishops and the pontiff are sinners.“They learn to forgive, because they know they need to ask for forgiveness and to
Forgive,” Pope Francis said. “We are all sinners.”
The traditional washing of the feet did not take place, nor was the Blessed Sacrament exposed at the conclusion of the Mass.
Other events for the day were also postponed, like the Holy Father’s traditional Chrism Mass. It will be celebrated at the end of the pandemic. This Mass honors the institution of the priesthood and blesses the holy oils used for the year’s Sacraments.
Pope Francis typically celebrates this evening Mass in a prison and washes and kisses the feet of 12 prisoners, showing them a compassion they don’t often experience.
While Pope Francis couldn’t do that April 9, his prayers for prisoners this week during his daily Mass show they are still on his mind and in his heart.