Pope Francis

Pope Francis’ Christmas celebrations will be streamed online this year with no in-person public attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic, a member of the German embassy to the Vatican confirmed on Tuesday.

Embassies to the Holy See were told liturgies would take place “in a private form without the presence of members of the diplomatic corps” and streamed online, the Catholic News Agency had reported on Monday.

Monsignor Oliver Lahl, a Representative of the German Embassy, said on Tuesday that the Vatican had sent such a message concerning the Christmas period.

The Vatican press office did not respond to a request for comment.

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On Dec. 24, the pope usually leads a Christmas Eve mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica, with Vatican-accredited diplomats and selected members of the public in attendance.

The Vatican’s website made no mention of the mass in the pope’s agenda for December but confirmed the traditional Dec. 25 “Urbi et Orbi” Christmas Day blessings.

The blessings are normally delivered from the central balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica.

The Vatican was already forced to cancel public attendance of Easter celebrations in April, in what was then an unprecedented move in modern times.