NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — On Sunday, Christians worldwide celebrated Palm Sunday, marking the beginning of Holy Week.

But instead of churches being packed with worshipers, the coronavirus pandemic changed traditional observances.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a major tourist attraction and a beacon of light and hope for Christians from around the world. It would normally be packed on this high holy day, but the sheer silence Sunday was a reminder of how different this Easter season will be, reported CBS2’s Tara Jakeway.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Last year’s Palm Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s had the pews packed with people. Outside, a parade wrapped around the holy landmark, and the faithful filled Fifth Avenue. Half a dozen Masses take place there every year, so popular that some of them require a ticket for admission.

Due to coronavirus, with the stay-home order in full effect, all of those Masses were canceled.

On Sunday, there was some good news. Instead of waiting in line, parishioners were invited to go online. Timothy Cardinal Dolan held a virtual Mass which you can watch by clicking here. The archbishop’s homily was about those in need during this pandemic. During the Mass, his eminence blessed several tons of food that Catholic Charities of New York will distribute on Holy Thursday to food insecure New Yorkers that are impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

“We’re shepherds without sheep because we’re not seeing our people. And this is contrary to everything that we feel. We kind of feel straitjacketed in that we’re unable to be out there physically with our people, to tend to them,” Dolan said.

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