Pope Francis on Saturday issued a message ahead of the Easter holiday during which he said he hoped the pandemic would to come to an end and that the world could "begin anew."
During an Easter vigil service at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Francis said that this year's Easter season came with the hope of renewal, according to Reuters.
The pared-down Easter service was the second of its kind due to the pandemic. All papal services were attended by about 200 people, according to the wire service. Usually, around 10,000 people fill the church.
“In these dark months of the pandemic, let us listen to the Risen Lord as he invites us to begin anew and never lose hope,” Francis said, according to Reuters.
Francis presided over the ninth Easter service of his pontificate in the secondary altar of St. Peter’s Basilica and began two hours ahead of the usual schedule in order for congregants to be able to return home in time for Italy's 10 p.m. curfew.
The country is currently under strict lockdown in order to curb the rise in coronavirus cases.
“[God] invites us to overcome barriers, banish prejudices and draw near to those around us every day in order to rediscover the grace of everyday life,” Francis said, according to the news outlet.
The Pope also encouraged those listening to his message to care for people who have been cast to the fringes of society, mentioning Jesus's model of loving people who were “struggling to live from day to day.”