Breaking a 35-year-old tradition, the Pope will not deliver Easter Mass in St Peter's Square surrounded by Dutch flowers owing to the floral designer's lack of business during the pandemic.
"The consequences of Covid-19 are enormous for all national and international events," said Dutch floral designer Paul Deckers, recalling that the project had already been cancelled in 2020 and 2021.
"Covid has unfortunately resulted in the 'Flowers for the Pope' project being terminated," he said in a statement on Wednesday. The head of the Catholic Church normally presides over Easter Mass in the crowded St Peter's Square before giving a blessing.
- Dutch parliament approves purchase of Rembrandt masterpiece
- Major renovation for historic Flemish castle
For several decades, the square has been decorated at Easter with flowers donated by the Netherlands. Tulips are always present while lilies, roses and daffodils are also common.
The project, which was initiated by the Van der Voort brothers in 1985 and continued by Deckers, is rooted in Dutch society.
Because of the pandemic, Easter Mass in 2020 was celebrated inside the basilica and broadcast to viewers online. This was also the case in 2021. The floral decorations – one of the Netherlands' most famous international floral projects – were still sent on both years but no visitors were allowed inside the square.
Deckers said he was "grateful" to have had the opportunity to present "Dutch floral art and floriculture on this international platform for many years."