Normally celebrated outdoors in front of thousands of tourists, the Pope instead spoke in the presence only of a small handful of priests and nuns and a reduced choir, who all maintained a safe distance from one another.
More on the start of Holy Week
“Look at the real heroes who come to light in these days: they are not famous, rich and successful people; rather they are those who are giving themselves in order to serve others,” he said.
“Feel called yourselves to put your lives on the line,” the Pope added. “Do not be afraid to devote your life to God and to others, it pays!”
Palm Sunday mass inaugurates the beginning of Holy Week, the most important week of the Christian liturgical calendar which culminates in Easter, next Sunday, April 12.
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This article has been updated to correct the name of the week before Easter.