Image Caption: Pope Francis waves to the faithful after the Urbi et Orbi (“to the city and to the world”) message and blessing on Easter Sunday. (Photo: Vatican/AFP)
(RomeReports) Like every Holy Week, Pope Francis chose the peripheries to celebrate the day of brotherly love and the Institution of the Eucharist.
The Pope celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday at Regina Coeli Prison in Rome. There, the Holy Father explained to the prisoners that, just like Jesus washed the feet of His Disciples, the inmates had also been chosen.
“The sign that Jesus serves us here today, in Regina Coeli, is that he wanted to choose 12 of you, like 12 Apostles, to wash your feet,” the Pope told the inmates.
Later, with towel in hand, Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 men. There were eight Catholics, one Orthodox, two Muslims and one Buddhist. The pope told them he was as much of a sinner as them, but he was in that prison representing Jesus.
On Good Friday, the Holy Father presided over the ceremony of the Lord’s Passion in St Peter’s Basilica, in which he chose not to speak with words, but rather with strong gestures.
The pope, although in pain due to hip ailments, laid down on the floor as a sign of penitence. Then, he venerated the cross.
In the evening, Pope Francis headed to the Colosseum to pray the Stations of the Cross in a place so symbolic of Christian martyrdom.
Each station was accompanied by a meditation written by teenagers from a Roman high school who also carried the cross. It was also carried by this Syrian family, refugees who fled their country due to war and persecution.
In the midst of the darkness, the Pope chose to speak of hope: “The hope that your message continues to inspire, even today, so many people and peoples, so that only good can defeat evil and wickedness; only forgiveness can bring down resentment and revenge, only fraternal embrace can disperse the hostility and fear of others.”
On Saturday, Pope Francis celebrated the Easter Vigil in St Peter’s Basilica. It’s the move from death to life, from darkness to light. The Holy Father urged Christians to be participants in the new life provided by Christ’s Resurrection, not just mere spectators.
“An invitation that must be directed to where we stand, what we are doing and what we are, with the ‘power ratio’ that is ours. Do we want to share in this message of life or do we prefer simply to continue standing speechless before events as they happen?” As is tradition, eight adults were baptized during the ceremony.
On Easter Sunday, the pope presided over Mass in St. Peter’s Square and later gave the Urbi et Orbi blessing in which he prayed especially for Syria: “So that a swift end may be brought to the carnage in course, that humanitarian law may be respected and that provisions be made to facilitate access to the aid so urgently needed by our brothers and sisters.”
The Holy Father didn’t forget the Venezuelan people, either. “May that nation, by the power of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, find a just, peaceful and humane way to surmount quickly the political and humanitarian crises that grip it,” he said.
Pope Francis also recalled the forgotten conflicts in Yemen, Ukraine and South Sudan. He urged these governments to make decisions that respect human dignity.
The blessing concluded Holy Week celebrations in Rome, the fifth-annual during the Pope Francis era.