Pope Francis has a cold © Gregorio Borgia
Because of the corona virus, for the first time in history, Sunday's noon prayer by the pope will only be video streamed. The Vatican follows the guidelines of the government, which prohibits dense gatherings of people.
The Vatican said Saturday that Pope Francis' address at the Apostolic Palace will be recorded and live-streamed through various channels. The measures are intended to avoid the risk of groups spreading the virus during security checks to the square, it said.
Also general audience not public
In doing so, the Vatican is following guidelines set by the Italian government, which has banned gatherings where participants cannot maintain the specified minimum distance of one meter. According to the report, the video broadcast will be shown on the large screens in St. Peter's Square, via the Vatican News Internet portal, as well as via other media outlets that also want to broadcast.
Wednesday's general audience is expected to take place in the same way. As the Vatican further announced, the Pope will be absent until 15. March to celebrate morning Masses at Santa Marta guesthouse without participation of faithful, but alone.
Visitor numbers drastically reduced
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni had already announced on Thursday that they were planning further measures to protect against a further spread of the coronavirus. After Friday's announcement that the Apostolic Library and several archives will be closed next week, Sunday's modified Angelus prayer and general audience are other measures.
St. Peter's Basilica and Vatican museums are still open; however, visitor numbers have dropped dramatically, as they have everywhere in Rome.