VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis celebrated Palm Sunday Mass without the public, since the traditional ceremony in St. Peter's Square was scrapped because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Normally, tens of thousands of faithful, clutching olive tree branches or palm fronds, would have attended outdoor Mass. Instead, Francis on Sunday led the ceremony inside St. Peter's Basilica, which seemed even more cavernous than usual because it was so empty.

Aides, a few invited prelates and nuns and altar servers were present. Francis says during the pandemic the "real heroes" are "not famous, rich or successful" but those who serve others.