Whatever you are planning for Friday evening, please include this important moment … On Friday, March 27th, the Holy Father Francis will offer an extraordinary blessing Urbi et Orbi — a solemn blessing to the city of Rome and the world — from the steps of an empty St Peter’s Square. It will be at 17.00 GMT and will be  period of silent prayer followed by the Pope’s blessing.

Readings from scripture, prayers, and Eucharistic adoration will precede the blessing, which Vatican Media will broadcast live from 5 p.m. UK time.

The plenary indulgence attached to the Urbi et Orbi blessing is available to all who follow the event live or online.

The normal conditions for obtaining an indulgence are amended due to the current pandemic. It is “granted to the faithful suffering from Coronavirus, who are subject to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes if, with a spirit detached from any sin, they unite spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion, or if at least they will recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters, with the will to fulfil the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father’s intentions), as soon as possible.”

The indulgence is also granted to medical professionals, first responders, and other caregivers, whose occupations put them at elevated risk of exposure to coronavirus.

In addition, the indulgence is available during the emergency to the all who follow the ceremony online and who pray especially for relief from the pandemic and the repose of the souls of the victims of the disease.