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Coronavirus

Pope in dramatic visit to empty Rome to pray for end of virus

Holy Weeks and Easter services next month will be held without public participation

Pope Francis sends a virtual hug after delivering his weekly Angelus prayer via video at the Vatican, Mar.15.    © Reuters

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) -- Pope Francis ventured into a deserted Rome on Sunday to pray at two shrines for the end of the coronavirus pandemic, as the Vatican said his Easter services will be held without the public for the first time.

Francis left the Vatican unannounced to pray at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and then walked along one of Rome's main streets to visit St. Marcello church to pray before a crucifix that was used in a procession when the plague hit Rome in 1522.

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