As the lockdown continues, Cardinal Vincent today celebrated the Solemn Commemoration of the Lord's Passion in an empty Westminster Cathedral, with thousands live streaming the liturgy.

Earlier in the day, during radio and television interviews, he said that, during the minute's silent prostration at the start of the commemoration, he would be praying for all who have died from Covid-19 (coronavirus) and all who are dying today. 

He began his homily by acknowledging the desire of the faithful to attend this special liturgy in person, but that it was not possible to do so. However, he said, we should take heart from knowing that we are all part of the 'great company of disciples, following in Jesus' footsteps.'

'The Cross of Jesus,' he said, 'is a symbol of human suffering, from Adam to the present day. It is a symbol of suffering and death of every kind. What led Jesus to the Cross was the confusion of the people. He was condemned, though he was an innocent man.

'He died on the Cross, gasping for breath as people do today in intensive care units from the coronavirus.'

He asked us to remember in our prayers all who have died in hospital, those who die today, and all our loved ones who have died: 'For them, we say with Jesus, into your hands Lord, we commend their souls.'

'The Cross is a weapon of victory,' he continued. ' With the Cross, Jesus breaks open the tomb. He 'breaks through the hard rock' so that the 'Cross becomes a triumphal arch, through which we walk with him.'

'Jesus carried the Cross into the depths of hell, of all suffering,' reaching out to all who had died, to bring them to the Father.

'The Cross is everywhere,' he added. 'We carry it around our necks, we reach out for it in the night, it is found in every darkness, for which we praise our Lord today.

He made the further point that the 'Cross is the start of life.' In Jesus, the natural bonds of familial relationships 'are superseded and we begin to share in a new life, recognising its origins are in Jesus, recognising our new bonds in him and in the life of God the Father.'

He invited everyone watching to have a cross to hand at the moment of veneration, enjoining: 'Place yourself and your troubles at the foot of the Cross.'

After the veneration, during the Communion Rite, in a moving gesture, the Cardinal noted that, at this point, the liturgy permits him to receive Holy Communion, but that he would unite with everyone watching the live stream in making a Spiritual Communion instead.