Pope Francis gives the Urbi et Orbi blessing at St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican.
Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
The Archbishop of New Orleans and a rabbi took to the sky in a World War II-era plane Friday to bless the entire community as the coronavirus pandemic forced residents to remain isolated inside their homes for Passover and Easter.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond, 70, and 29-year-old Rabbi Lexi Erdheim flew in a 1943 Boeing PT-17 Stearman biplane on “spirit flights” that passed over Kenner, Gretna and the French Quarter, The Times-Picayune reported.
Aymond, who recently recovered from the virus, was the first to go up in the plane, once used to train WWII fighter pilots.
From the open-air cockpit, he prayed for protection and healing, and sprinkled holy water that came from the Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond, left, gives a thumbs-up as he gets set to ride in a World War II-era Stearman PT-17 biplane over the city on Friday. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
"I prayed in a special way while I was asking God's blessings. I prayed in a special way for the health care professionals, for the first responders, for our government leaders who really are on the front lines, and they're risking their lives," Aymond told FOX8 New Orleans. "So we're very grateful to them."
Erdheim, of Congregation Gates of Prayer in Metairie, took off in the same plane later Friday to offer a Passover blessing.
Aymond talks with Rabbi Lexi Erdheim after he flew over the city to bless victims of the coronavirus. Erdheim flew next and gave blessings for those affected by the virus during Passover. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
People of all faiths kept on eye on the skies to catch a glimpse of the prayer flights.
“We’re Catholic, but we’ll take both blessings,” Suzie Surbeck joked to the paper.
Aymond took with him holy water to sprinkle over the city, and the Eucharist, to bless those sick or deceased from the new coronavirus, as well as the front line responders. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
All 64 parishes in Lousiana now have a confirmed positive case of coronavirus. The disease has infected 21,942 people and killed 806 as of Sunday.
Despite the growing number of infections and deaths, Louisiana has seen positive signs that it has begun to “flatten the curve” as officials said the rate of new hospitalizations has slowed and the number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators has decreased.