Catholics in New Zealand will be celebrating Easter in front of a television or their computer screens rather than at church.

New Zealand is now at alert level 4 due to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak, meaning that gatherings of any size are cancelled and venues such as churches are closed.

Lyndsay Freer, spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Auckland, said the Church here was in negotiations to have Easter masses screened on TV.

Stations of the Cross procession at St Patrick's Cathedral. Photo / File.
Stations of the Cross procession at St Patrick's Cathedral. Photo / File.

"Our celebrations during the Easter period, which for us begins with a Mass on Holy Thursday evening, April 9, a special service on Good Friday afternoon and a Mass on Easter Sunday morning," Freer said.


"Because our churches are in lockdown, we are attempting to provide recorded daily Masses to our Catholic people via our diocesan website and the Bishop's Facebook."

Besides screening through these channels, Freer said they were in talks to have the services aired on TV.

"We are negotiating to have some television time during this period, and are very grateful that this is likely to be a possibility," Freer said.

Pope Francis this week tested negative for Covid-19 coronavirus. Photo / Supplied.
Pope Francis this week tested negative for Covid-19 coronavirus. Photo / Supplied.

Normally, services during Easter were among the most well-attended - including the Stations of the Cross procession on Good Friday, a 14-step Catholic devotion that commemorates Jesus Christ's last day on Earth as a man.

In Auckland, thousands usually packed St Patrick's Cathedral for the Easter procession and services each year.

However, this year the services will be limited to recorded ones.

"The three Easter period services will take place in different parishes where there is more than one resident priest in the bubble, to make it easier to record," Freer said.

"Naturally, all these services will be very different from what people usually experience when we have far greater personnel and resources to draw upon."


She said the Church remained committed to remain connected to Catholics and provide for their spiritual needs "as best as we can in these troubled times".

The Vatican, the home of the Catholic Church, is also reeling from the impact of Covid-19.

Many thousands usually crammed St Peter's Square, and a few lucky ones will get to attend Easter Sunday mass conducted by the Pope.

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However, there will be no such celebrations this year after the Vatican confirmed one resident who lived with the Pope tested positive for coronavirus, resulting in testing being done for 170 people in the complex.

Six of those tested came back positive but Pope Francis tested negative for Covid-19, according a Vatican statement.

"Pope Francis celebrates a daily Mass which is live-streamed from the Vatican, and the Easter liturgies will also be coming to us from there via the Vatican website," Freer added.

Catholics are the largest "religious" group in New Zealand, according to 2018 census data, with 469,935 people identifying with the faith. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website