Pope Francis livestreaming his Sunday blessing to people in St. Peter's Square on March 8. Photo: Alessandra Benedetti - Corbis/Getty Images

Pope Francis livestreamed his Sunday blessing from inside the Vatican — and not from his window overlooking St. Peter's Square — in order to dissuade crowds gathering there during Italy’s coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Italy has the largest number of reported cases in Europe, and at least 16 million people are now under quarantine in the country's north. Despite the precautions, Pope Francis waved from the window at the small crowd that gathered in the square to watch his address on large video screens.

What he's saying: Pope Francis said that he felt "caged" as a result of restrictions from the outbreak.

  • “It’s a bit strange this Angelus prayer today with the pope caged in the library, but I see you and I am close to you,” he said, according to Reuters.
  • The pope encouraged people “to live this difficult moment with the strength of faith, the certainty of hope and the fervor of charity."
  • "I am close in prayer to people who are suffering because of the current coronavirus epidemic as well as to all those who are taking care of them," he said.

Between the lines: Pope Francis appears to have recovered from an illness that prevented him from attending a retreat with senior Vatican officials last week. He tested negative for the coronavirus.

Of note: The pope also asked for an end to the conflict in Syria between Russian-backed forces and Turkey, which has displaced thousands of people.

In photos
People waiting in St. Peter's Square to hear Pope Francis' Sunday address. Photo: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images
People wearing face masks in St. Peter's Square on Sunday. Photo: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images
Pope Francis waving to the crowd. Photo: Alessandra Benedetti - Corbis/Getty Images
Photo: Alessandra Benedetti - Corbis/Getty Images

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