Pope Francis has been seen wandering down deserted streets in Rome, offering prayers to those affected by Covid-19 and hoping for an end to the crisis.
Surrounded by body guards, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church was defying the advise given by the Italian government by journeying through public streets.
He was also seen delivering a blessing from his balcony window over an empty St Peter’s Square.
Pope Francis left the Vatican unannounced and visited two churches, praying at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and St Marcello church where he prayed in front of a crucifix that was used in a procession when the plague hit Rome in 1522.
A Vatican statement said that the Pope prayed for an end to the pandemic, as well as praying for the sick, their families and workers keeping pharmacies and stores open amid the lockdown.
The Vatican said earlier that his Holy Weeks and Easter services next month will be held without public participation, a step believed to be unprecedented in modern times.