Pope Francis entered a torch-lit, but hauntingly empty Saint Peter’s Square for a Good Friday (April 10) procession under a lockdown caused by a coronavirus that has claimed 100,000 lives worldwide.
The Argentine-born pontiff walked up to his podium flanked by five prison inmates from the hard-hit northern Italian city of Padua and five Vatican doctors and nurses.
Their presence was a tribute to the victims of a disease that has officially claimed nearly 19,000 lives in surrounding Italy.
Earlier, Francis had said that medics and priests who died after becoming infected while looking after Covid-19 victims “gave their lives out of love, like soldiers at the front”.
I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.