Pope Francis delivered his Urbi et Orbi (the city and the world ) blessing to a deserted St Peter's Square in Rome yesterday.
In the ceremony, the Pontiff (83) prayed for the world at this critical juncture in the presence of two images that have accompanied the people of Rome for centuries: the ancient icon of Mary Salus Populi Romani - usually housed in the Basilica of St Mary Major - and the miraculous crucifix which is kept in the church of San Marcello on the city's Via del Corso.
Praying for the end of the Covid-19 emergency, Pope Francis said: "Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts.
"You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful.
"But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm."
The Italian capital remains in lockdown, as the coronavirus crisis intensifies.
The stricken country, the epicentre of Europe's pandemic, has recorded the most virus deaths of any nation in the world - yesterday reaching a total of over 9,000.