Pope: ‘We Implore You … Wake Up, Lord!’

WINDSOR TERRACE — On Friday, March 27, under a persistent light rain coming down from a gray Roman sky, and facing an empty St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis imparted a special Urbi et Orbi, the blessing “to the City [of Rome] and to the World” that is normally only given on Christmas and Easter.

“Faith begins when we realize that we are in need of salvation,” the pope said at the beginning of the service, speaking from the steps in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. “We are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed,” he added. “All of us called to row together, each of us in need of each other.”

Then the pope prayed for the end of the Covid-19 pandemic in front of the icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary known as “Salus Populi Romani” (Health of the Roman people), which was brought from the Basilica of St. Mary Major for the occasion, and the “Miraculous Crucifix” that was used in a procession when the plague hit Rome in 1522. The “Miraculous Crucifix” was brought from the Church of St. Marcellus on Via del Corso, where it is usually venerated. While the pope prayed, drops of rain covered the crucifix, mixing with the painted blood of the statue.

Near the end of his reflection, Pope Francis made a dramatic appeal for God’s mercy: “We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick. Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you … ‘Wake up, Lord!’ ”

The pope then entered the atrium of the basilica to pray in front of the Holy Sacrament. At the end of the service, he came out to the basilica carrying the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament to impart his ‘Urbi et Orbi’ benediction.

Pope Francis arrives for a prayer service in an empty St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 27, 2020. (Photo: CNS/Vatican Media)

On this special occasion, all those who listened to it live had the possibility of gaining a plenary indulgence, which according to the Catholic Encyclopedia is a “remission of the entire temporal punishment due to sin so that no further expiation is required in Purgatory.”

On March 20, the Apostolic Penitentiary had also announced the granting of special indulgences for the victims of COVID-19, their caregivers, friends and family and those who help them with their prayers.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in Italy, Pope Francis has repeatedly used mass media to reach Catholics around the world. On Wednesday, March 25, the feast of the Annunciation he invited not only Catholics but “the Heads of the Churches and the leaders of every Christian community, together with all Christians of the various confessions, to invoke the Almighty, the omnipotent God, to recite at the same time the prayer that Jesus, our Lord, taught us” – the Our Father.

The service was live-streamed at noon Rome time on the Vatican News website and a recording was then posted on the Vatican YouTube channel. Millions of Christians around the world joined him through television, YouTube, Facebook and websites to pray for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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