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Pope Francis leaves after delivering his blessing at the Vatican, Sunday, March 22, 2020. During his weekly Sunday blessing, held due to virus concerns in his private library in the Apostolic Palace, he urged all Christians to join in reciting the ‘’Our Father’’ prayer next Wednesday at noon. And he said that he would lead a global blessing to an empty St. Peter’s Square on Friday. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is seeking to unite Christianity across denomination in prayer against the new virus "shaking humanity."

The pope held his weekly Sunday blessing in his private library in the Apostolic Palace over virus concerns. He urged all Christians to join in reciting the "Our Father" prayer next Wednesday at noon.

The pope said he would lead a global blessing to an empty St. Peter’s Square on Friday. The "Urbi et Orbi," blessing is normally reserved for Christmas Day and Easter and will be broadcast to the faithful.

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The double prayer initiative of such a global and ecumenical nature is highly unusual and suggests the urgency with which the Vatican views the pandemic.

The pope began streaming his audiences earlier this month after the Vatican joined Italy in implementing drastic lockdown measures.