Christians around the world celebrated Easter Sunday under coronavirus lockdown with church pews empty and the pope on livestream.
At the climax of Holy Week for most of the planet’s Christians, congregations were shuttered at home to avoid spreading the pathogen that has infected nearly 1.8 million people worldwide.
Easter is the most important Christian festival commemorating Jesus Christ’s resurrection.
Pope Francis was set to break with centuries of tradition by taking his Easter mass online, with Saint Peter’s Square, packed every year with worshippers, left deserted.
The United States topped the list for both deaths and number of coronavirus positive cases, according to a tally maintained by Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University.
Italy, the hardest-hit country in Europe, has recorded more than 19,000 confirmed virus deaths – second only to the US.
On Saturday, Pope Francis livestreamed his Easter Vigil to the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics from an almost empty St Peter’s Basilica.
“Darkness and death do not have the last word,” he said. “As the days go by and fears grow, even the boldest hope can dissipate. Let us not give in to resignation … We can and must hope,” said the pontiff.
Francis was praised by Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte for his “gesture of responsibility” to observe Easter in private.