Archbishop Eamon Martin has lent his support to Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan’s suggestion that church bell’s should ring around Ireland at 11am on St. Patrick’s Day in a call to prayer and social solidarity during the coronavirus outbreak.

“At this time, due to the Coronavirus, Mass is being celebrated but without the congregation being physically present so the ringing of Church bells is a call to prayer – wherever you are – and a reminder of the faith that has sustained the people of our island throughout the centuries,” Bishop Cullinan said.

“The bell ringing is also an expression of social solidarity, an encouragement to care for one other, and for all of us to be inspired and remain hopeful at the difficult time…I have invited other bishops to have church bells rung at 11am across their dioceses on our national feast day.”

Archbishop Martin responded on Twitter: “Delighted to support Bishop Cullinan’s idea to ring Church bells on Saint Patrick’s Day as a call to prayer and social solidarity.”

As Ireland attempts to avoid the devastating impact of Covid-19 experienced in Italy, Pope Francis was meanwhile spotted walking deserted Roman streets to churches where people historically prayed for an end to plagues besetting the country.

The pontiff prayed first at the Basilica of S. Maria Maggiore where the popular image of Maria Salus Populi Romani, meaning “Mary, Health of the Roman People,” resides and is often visited by Romans during a crisis.

He then walked to the church of San Marcello al Corso, home to a reportedly miraculous crucifix which, in 1522, was taken in procession through Roman neighborhoods struck by plague.