The Vatican has released a free online prayer book in a bid to support Catholics through the coronavirus pandemic.
The 192-page resource, titled "Strong in the Face of Tribulation: The Church in Communion – a Sure Support in Time of Trial" contains three different segments: prayers, rituals and supplications; an explanation as to how Catholics can continue to practice the faith without the support of the Sacrament, and a series of reflections from Pope Francis himself regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
The book is edited by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication and will be updated on a regular basis.
In the introduction, the dicastery’s editorial director, Andrea Tornielli, writes: “This book is intended to be a little help offered to all, so as to know how to discern and experience God’s closeness and tenderness in pain, in suffering, in solitude and in fear. Of course, faith does not eliminate pain; ecclesial communion does not eliminate anguish. Rather, it does illuminate reality and reveal that it is pervaded by the love and hope based not on our abilities, but on the One Who is faithful and never abandons us.
“On the cover there is an image of the Archangel Michael, who protects the Church against evil and sustains us in this difficult trial, so that this evil may not prejudice our trust in the Father and the solidarity among us, but rather become an opportunity to look at what is truly essential for our lives and to share the love received from God among us all, and in a special way with those who are most in need today.”
Pope Francis has been tweeting out regular reflections and prayers on Twitter regarding the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Italy particularly hard.
"As we look ahead to a slow and arduous recovery from the pandemic, the risk is that an even worse virus may strike us: that of a selfish indifference that forgets those who are left behind," he wrote on Friday.
On Thursday, Pope Francis wrote that the pandemic "reminds us there are no differences or borders between those who suffer."
He added: "We are all frail, all equal, all precious. May we be profoundly shaken: Now is the time to eliminate inequalities and heal the injustice undermining the health of the entire human family!"