Pope Francis swings a thurible at the start of Easter Sunday Mass behind closed doors at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Photo: Andreas Solaro/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis spoke of a "contagion of hope" as he celebrated Easter Sunday mass by breaking with centuries of tradition in a livestream of the service from a near-empty St. Peter's Basilica.

The big picture: The mass was broadcast via the Holy See's YouTube channel early Sunday amid the lockdown. Hope was a theme of the Pope's Saturday night Easter vigil, when he urged some 1.2 billion Catholics, "Do not be afraid, do not yield to fear" in the coronavirus crisis.

  • Other leaders also expressed hope, including Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, who spoke in a recorded Easter message Saturday of "light overcoming darkness."
  • Church of England leader and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was to speak of a "resurrection of our common life" in his "first national digital Easter Sunday service from the kitchen" of his London apartment, per the BBC.

Watch the mass below:

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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