The world turned the page on 2020 last month, but the coronavirus pandemic continued to hold sway over lives, deaths, rituals, ceremonies and prayers, as captured by AP photographers in January.
At a Los Angeles hospital, a chaplain clad in protective gear to safeguard his own health placed his hand on the head of a COVID-19 patient in blessing. For the past 11 months, he and others have entered the rooms of the sick and dying to comfort them and reassure them there is nothing to fear.
In Bucharest, Romania, a coffin crowned with red and white flowers and containing the remains of Holocaust survivor Iancu Tucarman, who died of the virus at age 98, was wheeled past an honor guard of uniformed soldiers for burial.
And in Vatican City, St. Peter’s Square stood practically deserted as Pope Francis recited the Angelus noon prayer in his studio instead of at a window overlooking the plaza due to health restrictions.
That was just one of the countless rites around the globe altered because of the virus.
In Washington, Joe Biden’s inaugural ceremony outside the Capitol was held in front of a drastically pared-down group of socially distanced attendees, with the new president swearing in on a thick Bible that’s been a “family heirloom” since 1893.
Two weeks earlier, inside the same building, lawmakers wearing face masks bowed their heads for the closing prayer of a joint session of Congress to confirm Electoral College votes — hours after a violent insurrection by rioters bent on overturning Biden’s election.
These and more are among the AP’s top faith-related images from January.