VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is calling for solidarity the world over to confront the “epochal challenge” posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Francis issued the appeal from a nearly-empty St. Peter's Basilica as Christians celebrated a solitary Easter blending the joyful feast day with sorrow over the virus’ toll.

Families who normally would attend morning Mass in their Easter best and later join friends for celebratory lunches hunkered down at home. Police checkpoints in Europe and closed churches around the globe forced the faithful to watch Easter services online or on TV.

A few lucky Romans participated from their balconies overlooking Santa Emerenziana church as a priest celebrated a rooftop open-air Mass. The pope says “this is not a time for self-centeredness.”

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