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Pope renounced Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum

Pope renounced Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum

Image: (APA/AFP/ALBERTO PIZZOLI)

After attending the Adoration of the Cross in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope decided not to take part in the Stations of the Cross to protect his health, the Vatican said. The pope will follow the Stations of the Cross from his residence, the Santa Marta guesthouse, and join the prayers of those gathering with the diocese of Rome at the Colosseum, the Vatican said.

The 87-year-old had had to cancel several appointments in recent weeks due to bronchitis. Tens of thousands of believers gathered in front of the ancient amphitheater for the atmospheric procession on Good Friday, which commemorated the stages of Jesus’ suffering. A symbolic cross was carried over 14 stations.

Many believers had waited for hours for the ceremony to begin in front of the Colosseum. The traditional ceremony in memory of the suffering of Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago, a highlight of the Easter program, took place on the so-called Via Crucis in front of the Roman landmark. The cross was carried by some cloistered nuns as well as people with disabilities, migrants and young people. University students held the torches.

Last year the Pope also canceled the Good Friday procession. Due to the low temperatures, he decided to follow the Stations of the Cross from his residence, the Santa Marta guesthouse.

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Self-written meditations

Pope Francis himself wrote the meditations for the Stations of the Cross for the first time this year. They focused on the suffering and death of Jesus and are inspired by the Year of Prayer proclaimed by the Pope in preparation for the upcoming Holy Year 2025.

In the meditations, the Pope speaks, among other things, about the “tragedies in the world”: “How do I react to the madness of war, to children’s faces that can no longer smile, to mothers who see them malnourished and hungry and no longer have tears, that they could shed?” says one of the texts. Francis remembers the “sisters and brothers who suffer from persecution and the drama of war”; as well as the many abandoned old people, the sick, single people, prisoners and exploited people as well as the unborn children.

In recent decades, Pope Francis and his predecessors have chosen very different authors for the stations. John Paul II once asked the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I for a text.

Knee pain

Before the Way of the Cross, the Pope celebrated the Good Friday liturgy “Suffering and Death of the Lord” in St. Peter’s Basilica in the afternoon. After readings from the Holy Scriptures and intercessions, the veneration of the cross was the focus of the celebration. At the beginning of the adoration of the cross, Francis, who was suffering from knee pain, did not lie down at the foot of the altar, as the Good Friday liturgy requires, but instead remained in prayer for a few minutes. Numerous cardinals and bishops as well as diplomats accredited to the Holy See took part in the ceremony. The sermon was given by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa. During the long liturgy, the Pope spoke in a hoarse voice. The day before, the 87-year-old appeared comparatively relaxed at the Maundy Thursday ceremonies.

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The highlight of the Easter celebrations in the Vatican is the Easter Vigil mass on Saturday evening. Further highlights of the Holy and Easter days in the Vatican are the Pope’s Easter mass in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday morning (10:30 a.m.) and the solemn blessing “Urbi et orbi” at lunchtime.

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Source: Nachrichten

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