Pilgrims and tourists scattered sparingly in Rome's immense St. Peter's Square, were able to hear the Pope's lecture on giant screens on Sunday through video from his private library.
It was the first time that Francis, who was unable to make his usual address from a window overlooking the square because of fear of contagion by coronavirus among the crowds below.
"This Angelus prayer today is a little strange, with a pope in a cage in the library, but I see you, I'm close to you!" launched the Argentine pope in the preamble.
The traditional Sunday prayer of the Angelus has been held since 1954 in the window of the Apostolic Palace, overlooking the square.
But the Vatican announced on Saturday a change in habits to "prevent the risk of spread" of the coronavirus. The authorities requested the move due to the risk of infection among people in line to get through the security cordon.
The Pope thought Sunday for people affected by the new coronavirus around the world.
"I am close to the prayers of people who suffer from the current coronavirus epidemic and of all those who care for them," said Francis, who himself was affected by a common cold for ten days.
It was the first time that he left his home in the residence of Saint-Marthe, a few steps from St. Peter's Basilica, since the open-air audience on Wednesday, February 26, when he walked the square in the popemobile and pressed dozens of hands. .
"I join my brother bishops to encourage the faithful to live this difficult moment with the strength of faith, the certainty of hope and the fervor of charity," said the pope, who finally appeared briefly at the famous window to greet the crowd.
The crowd, more sparse than usual, strolled on Place Saint-Pierre on Sunday without getting behind barriers and without passing security checks, which would result in lines making it difficult to maintain the recommended distance between people, noted the agency. French press AFP.
The Pope's weekly audience next Wednesday, an opportunity to see the Pope in flesh even closer to the square, will also take place in the same way as this Sunday: the Pope will read his homily on video.