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Watch: Pope Francis delivers Palm Sunday Angelus

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By Euronews
Pope Francis celebrates a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Feb. 2, 2021.
Pope Francis celebrates a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Feb. 2, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

Pope Francis delivered a Mass on Sunday to mark Palm Sunday — the beginning of the Holy Week before Easter.

The Mass took place in St Peter's Basilica. Like last year, the celebrations were scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Only about 120 faithful, including nuns and a few families, attended and were socially-distanced. They wore protective masks as did participants in the procession of 30 red-robed cardinals, but Francis was maskless.

Traditionally, the pope leads a Palm Sunday procession through St. Peter’s Square in front of tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists clutching olive branches and braided palms before celebrating an outdoor Mass.

Italy is continental Europe's worst impacted country with more than 107,000 lives lost to COVID-19 and more than 3.5 million infections confirmed since the beginning of the outbreak, according to Johns Hopkins' Coronavirus Resource Centre.

Half of Italy's regions re-entered lockdown in mid-March following a spike of infections blamed on the spread of new variants. These include Lazio, where the capital Rome and the Vatican are located.

The rest of the country will also be put under lockdown for the Easter holiday next week.

Francis ended his remarks by inviting prayers for victims of a suicide bombing outside a crowded Roman Catholic cathedral during Palm Sunday services in Indonesia, which wounded at least 14 people, police in the Asian nation said.