What is the ‘Urbi et Orbi’ Blessing? Pope Francis is Imparting it Today Extraordinarily

Special Prayer for End to Pandemic

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Today, March 27, 2020, Pope Francis will preside over an extraordinary moment of prayer, to implore for an end to the pandemic, which will culminate with the imparting of the Urbi et Orbi blessing, to which will be attached the possibility of receiving a Plenary Indulgence.

It will take place in the sagrato (the courtyard in front of the entrance) of Saint Peter’s Basilica, facing an empty Square, as the Holy Father announced last Sunday, March 22, 2020, at the end of the Angelus prayer.

The Urbi et Orbi blessing was the usual formula with which the proclamations of the Roman Empire began.

At present, it’s the most solemn blessing that the Pope imparts, proper of the Petrine ministry, because it refers to the city of Rome, as Bishop of the diocese, and to the world, as Supreme Pontiff, explained liturgist, Father Arturo Elberti.

Times When It Is Imparted

 In Latin, Urbi et Orbi means “to the city (Rome) and to the world.” During the year it’s imparted on two occasions: Easter Sunday and Christmas Day, December 25. The Pontiff also imparts it on the day of his election, when he presents himself before Rome and the world as the new Successor of Saint Peter.

Exceptionally, given this moment of global health emergency, because of the Coronavirus, the Holy Father decided to grant it.

Remission of Due Punishments

 The Urbi et Orbi blessing (city and world) is a blessing to which a Plenary Indulgence is attached.

“An indulgence is a remission before God, of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian, who is duly disposed, gains under certain prescribed conditions, through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the Saints,” says the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Access to Heaven

 Given that a Plenary Indulgence remits completely the punishment due, the deceased, if he or she has not fallen into sin again, does not pass through Purgatory but goes directly to Heaven.

According to the same source, the effects of the Urbi et Orbi blessing are fulfilled for all those that receive it with faith and devotion, including if they receive it through the mass means of communication (television, radio, the Internet, etc.).

The Present Special Situation

 In fact, as Monsignor Felipe Arizmendi, Bishop Emeritus of San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, notes, “if we follow that prayer with the Pope on radio or television, we can obtain the said Indulgence as long as we are in God’s grace, rejecting sin from the heart.”

Ordinarily, Sacramental Confession is required; however, as it’s not possible now, the commitment is made to go to Confession as soon as possible,” he clarified.

This prayer is “equivalent to a visit before the Most Blessed Sacrament, now that it can’t be done in any other way. If someone can’t tune in at this time, they can do so spiritually when they can, and God sees his/her heart. Or if the video is seen later — it’s no longer live –, unite yourself to this intention and God listens to you. What is important is to pray,” stressed the Prelate.

Visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament and Eucharistic Adoration

 By the Pope’s disposition, the Apostolic Penitentiary grants a Plenary Indulgence also to “those faithful that offer a visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament or Eucharistic Adoration, or the reading of Holy Scripture for at least half an hour, or pray the Holy Rosary, or do the pious exercise of the Via Crucis, or pray the Divine Mercy chaplet, to implore Almighty God for an end to the epidemic, relief for the afflicted and the eternal salvation of those the Lord has called to Himself.”

In this connection, Monsignor Arizmendi pointed out that in the present circumstances, the visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament and Eucharistic Adoration can be done on the Internet: “Thus they can be done both by the sick as well as the doctors and nurses, persons that take care of the infected and the faithful in general. There is no restriction to obtain that grace, that spiritual resource. The rest can be done perfectly at home. The only condition to obtain the Indulgence is to be in God’s grace, as was said earlier,” he concluded.

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