Pope leaves Vatican, prays for end to pandemic at 2 churches

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FRANCES D'EMILIO Associated Press VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis left the Vatican to make a surprise visit to two churches on Sunday even as Italian health authorities demanded that people to stay home as much as possible to battle the country's severe coronavirus outbreak. The Vatican says the pope's trip included a brief stroll Sunday on a main Rome street to pray for the end of the coronavirus pandemic. The pope did a stretch of the street "as if on a pilgrimage," Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said. Francis prayed in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, then went to a church which has a crucifix carried in a 1522 procession in Rome when the city was stricken with plague. His walkabout came just hours after the Holy See announced that Vatican's Holy Week ceremonies will go ah
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