16:44 GMT16 April 2021
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    This was the second Easter in a row attended by around 200 people in a secondary altar of St. Peter's Basilica where all papal services are being held, rather than the nearly 10,000 people that the largest church in Christendom could accommodate.

    As he led an Easter Vigil service under the COVID-19 related restrictions on Saturday, the head of the Catholics, Pope Francis, expressed hope the pandemic's dark days would end and that people could "begin anew" and rediscover "the grace of everyday life".

    "In these dark months of the pandemic, let us listen to the Risen Lord as he invites us to begin anew and never lose hope," Francis said. "He [God] invites us to overcome barriers, banish prejudices and draw near to those around us every day in order to rediscover the grace of everyday life." 

    Pope noted that people should care for those most in need on the margins of society, just as Jesus did when he delivered his message "to those struggling to live from day to day."

    In his homily, Francis, who was celebrating his ninth Easter season as Pope, said the festival offered hope for renewal on a personal and global level.

    The service started two hours earlier than normal to allow attendees to get home before a 10 pm curfew in Rome, which, like the rest of Italy, is under tight lockdown restrictions over the Easter weekend. The service has also been streamed on YouTube for the faithful to follow the mass online.

    The basilica was dark at the start of the service, save for the flames from candles carried by participants to reflect the darkness of the world before Jesus. The basilica's lights were switched on as the pope, cardinals, and bishops processed to the altar and a cantor chanted three times.

    The pope will deliver his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message on Easter Sunday, the most significant day in the Christian liturgical calendar.

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    Easter Vigil, Easter Mass, easter, Pope Francis, Roman-Catholic Church, Catholic Church, Roman Catholic, Catholicism, catholics, Catholic
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