On 25 March last, the Feast of the Annunciation, Pope Francis announced that today, Friday 27 March, he will lead a prayer service on the sagrato of St Peter’s Basilica, the platform at the top of the steps immediately in front of the façade of the Church. All the faithful around the world are invited to participate in the prayer service, which will be broadcast live from the Vatican.

The ceremony will consist of Scripture readings, prayers of supplication, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, concluding with Pope Francis giving the Urbi et orbi Blessing, with the possibility of gaining a plenary indulgence for all those who listen to it live through the various forms of communication. The blessing “to the City [of Rome] and to the World” is normally only given on Christmas and Easter.

The plenary indulgence attached to the Urbi et orbi blessing is subject to the conditions foreseen by the recent Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

The Decree, given in Rome from the seat of the Apostolic Penitentiary on 19 March, states, “The Plenary Indulgence is granted to the faithful suffering from Coronavirus, who are subject to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes if, with a spirit detached from any sin, they unite spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion, or if at least they will recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters, with the will to fulfil the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father’s intentions), as soon as possible.

“Health care workers, family members and all those who, following the example of the Good Samaritan, exposing themselves to the risk of contagion, care for the sick of Coronavirus according to the words of the divine Redeemer: ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ (Jn 15: 13), will obtain the same gift of the Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions.

“This Apostolic Penitentiary also willingly grants a Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions on the occasion of the current world epidemic, also to those faithful who offer a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or Eucharistic adoration, or reading the Holy Scriptures for at least half an hour, or the recitation of the Holy Rosary, or the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross, or the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, to implore from Almighty God the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord has called to Himself.”

The live-stream will be available from 5pm on catholicbishops.ie and on RTÉ News Now.

ENDS