The global Catholic community joined Pope Francis in praying the rosary for all those afflicted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The prayer was organized at the behest of Italian Bishops for the evening of March 19, as an “invocation and supplication of the Father’s mercy to deliver us from this pandemic.”
Italian Catholics were also asked to place lighted candles in their window as a show of solidarity. The appeal later spread across social media, with Catholics around the world saying they would participate.
Pope Francis had confirmed during his virtual general audience the previous day he would joining in the prayers for Italy, which has seem more deaths from the new coronavirus pandemic than any other country.
“I unite myself to the moment of prayer that the Episcopal Conference [of Italy] is promoting, as a sign of unity for the whole country,” Vatican News cites Pope Francis as saying in his video message for the event.
“In this unprecedented situation, in which everything seems to be crumbling, let us help each other hold fast to what really matters. This is the advice I have received in so letters from your pastors who, in sharing such a dramatic moment, seek to sustain your hope and your faith with their word,” he said.
Pope Francis expressed his desire that those seeking comfort would find it, and the loving presence of God would be bestowed on all those in need. He then repeated calls to use this crisis to strengthen communal ties.
“We measure the truth of this experience through our relationship with others. At this moment, they are our closest relatives. Let us be close to one another, being the first to be charitable, understanding, patient and forgiving,” he said.
“Though you may be confined to your own homes, allow your hearts to expand so they may be available and welcoming to all.
“Tonight, we are praying together, entrusting ourselves to the intercession of St. Joseph, guardian of the Holy Family, guardian of all our families. Even the carpenter of Nazareth knew the precariousness and bitterness. Though he worried about the future, he knew how to walk the darkness of certain moments, always letting himself be guided by God’s will without reservation,” Pope Francis said.
With 427 deaths registered over a 24 hour span, Italy’s death toll has reached 3,405 since the outbreak struck the country roughly one month ago. China, where the new coronavirus epidemic began late last year, has recorded 3,245 deaths.
Worldwide, 245,859 cases of new coronavirus had been confirmed in 180 countries and territories as of March 20, resulting in 10,047 deaths.
Watch the pope’s message below.