Pope Francis to give a special Urbi et Orbi blessing amid coronavirus pandemic

Pope Francis gives the Christmas "Urbi et Orbi" blessing Dec. 25, 2018. Credit: Vatican Media.

(CNA) Pope Francis announced Sunday that he will give an extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing this week with the opportunity for Catholics to receive a plenary indulgence by tuning in via media.

“This Friday, March 27 at 6 p.m., I will preside over a moment of prayer outside of St. Peter's Basilica with the square empty. As now, I invite everyone to participate spiritually through the media,” Pope Francis said March 22 in his livestreamed Angelus address.

“Urbi et Orbi” means “To the City [of Rome] and to the World.” It is a special apostolic blessing given by the pope from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica every year on Easter Sunday, Christmas, and other special occasions.

Pope Francis said the March 27 prayer broadcast for those suffering from the coronavirus pandemic will include listening to the Word of God and Eucharistic Adoration.

More than 300,000 people have contracted COVID-19 as of March 22, according to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. The respiratory disease, which originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to 157 countries, and has led to the deaths of 13,672 people worldwide.

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