On a rainy evening in St. Peter´s Square, Pope Francis delivered a special blessing, asking God for help against the coronavirus. The square in Vatican City would normally be packed with onlookers, but no one was standing on the glistening cobblestones in March as he implored God to “not leave us at the mercy of the storm.” Millions were watching on TV and online, however. From the Vatican, to the village church, to mosques and temples, shuttered places of worship are streaming religious services for a global audience seeking spiritual help and connections with others during the pandemic.Vaishno Devi, one of India´s most revered Hindu shrines, is livestreaming prayers. “We are missing the pilgrims, their hustle and bustle. Their slogan shouting used to infuse new energy into us,” said Amir Chand, a priest at the temple. “But … in the present scenario, it is better to stay home, and therefore, we also advise the devotees to stay home and enjoy prayers.”At Jerusalem´s Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, prayers went online as throngs of worshippers disappeared. The three daily Jewish prayers were broadcast on several platforms, garnering millions of views from around the world, according to Yohanna Bisraor, a spokeswoman for the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which administers the site. Most synagogues in Israel are Orthodox, which typically do not allow livestreaming on the Jewish Sabbath, when turning on electronic devices is forbidden. More liberal congregations, though, have embraced online prayer.Jerusalem´s Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam, has been streaming prayers throughout the Ramadan holy month, which runs through next week.“In normal times, you see hundreds and thousands of people praying behind you and you can feel it when they say `Amen,´” said Sheikh Youssef Abu Sneineh, the mosque’s imam.In Nara, Japan, priests at Todaiji Buddhist temple prayed and chanted to drive out the coronavirus in a livestreamed event.Onoterusaki Shrine in Tokyo is offering an “online shrine” where people submit prayers, each printed on a wooden tablet and offered to the gods of Shinto by the priest.“I thought about how people can pray and have a peace of mind at a time everyone is feeling uneasy about all the news (of the pandemic) and going through major changes to life, but still cannot go out to pray,” head priest Ryoki Ono said.Omar Suleiman, an Islamic leader in Irving, Texas, said YouTube videos uploaded by his Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research had 30 million views for all of 2019 and have received 20 million in just the last six weeks.“People in general, I think, are looking for more meaning and spirituality in the midst of all this,” Suleiman said. “So I think there´s just a general increase in religiosity and consumption of religious content.”Online viewership of Francis “has grown significantly,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told The Associated Press by email. Francis’ television audience also has increased, including his celebration of Mass every morning to empty pews.“The numbers indicate that even people who would not have participated in religious services on a daily basis in the past are attending a Mass every morning and listening to the pope´s daily reflection on the gospel,” Bruni said. Also reaching more people is a tiny church with just a few dozen parishioners in the small Oregon community of Yoder, 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Portland.