Pope Francis and Christians worldwide have recited The Lord's Prayer to ask God to stop the coronavirus pandemic which has infected nearly half a million people, disrupted countless lives and shut down churches and other public venues. Francis invited all other Christian leaders and individual Christians to recite the Our Father prayer simultaneously at noon Italian time on Wednesday. "In this moment, we want to implore (God's) mercy for a humanity so sorely tried by the coronavirus pandemic. We do it together, Christians of every Church and Community, of every tradition, of every age, language and nation," he said. In an introduction to the Our Father, which is also known as The Lord's Prayer, he said it was also for "the sick and their families, health workers and those who assist them, for authorities, police forces and volunteers, for the (religious) ministers of our communities". There are about 2.3 billion Christians in the world, of whom about 1.3 billion are Roman Catholics. The 83-year-old Francis prayed from inside the Vatican, where he has been holed up for the past few weeks as a precaution as Italy has imposed stringent measures to tackle what has become the world's worst outbreak of the disease. On Friday, Francis will deliver an extraordinary Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) blessing - normally given only at Christmas and Easter.