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Archive for Saturday, April 10, 2004

Pope leads Good Friday prayers

April 10, 2004

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— Braving the chill of a rainy night, Pope John Paul II led prayers at the traditional Way of the Cross procession on Good Friday at the Colosseum as thousands of faithful turned out despite concerns about security.

The bad weather and the long day were the latest test of the 83-year-old pontiff's frail health and stamina during Holy Week ceremonies.

Nate Hughes, 7, Hoschton Ga., carries a wooden cross that he made
with his father. For the third year in a row, Nate, who weighs 40
pounds, carried the 45-pound cross through his neighborhood on Good
Friday morning. Nate said he started the ritual at age 5 because he
wanted to remind people of Jesus' sacrifice for them.

Nate Hughes, 7, Hoschton Ga., carries a wooden cross that he made with his father. For the third year in a row, Nate, who weighs 40 pounds, carried the 45-pound cross through his neighborhood on Good Friday morning. Nate said he started the ritual at age 5 because he wanted to remind people of Jesus' sacrifice for them.

Barely two hours earlier, John Paul presided over a two-hour Good Friday service in St. Peter's Basilica in which he struggled to his knees to pray and kissed a wooden crucifix held to him.

The pope used to carry a lightweight wooden cross in the evening procession but stopped three years ago because of his difficulty in walking.

Friday night, wearing white robes, John Paul sat in a chair and observed the procession, which symbolically traces Christ's path to his Crucifixion.

"Brothers and sisters, yet again we are reunited in following the Lord Jesus on the path that led him to Calvary," the pope said in an opening prayer.

Ecuadorean women called Las Veronicas participate in a Good Friday
procession in Quito.

Ecuadorean women called Las Veronicas participate in a Good Friday procession in Quito.

John Paul's public day began at noon, when he heard confessions from 11 Roman Catholics. The pontiff, who suffers from Parkinson's disease and knee ailments, was wheeled into the basilica by aides and into a mahogany confessional booth near the main altar. He spent about an hour there, listening to the confessions of five men and six women.

The pope will preside over an Easter vigil Mass tonight. Sunday he'll celebrate Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square and deliver his Easter message and blessing.

Pilgrims and tourists passed through metal detectors to enter the basilica, one of a number of security measures taken in Rome.

Italian officials said security has been increased at the Vatican, monuments, churches and train stations for the holidays, calling the steps "routine" and stressing there have been no specific threats.

An 18-foot cross dominates the Way of the Cross torchlight
procession attended by Pope John Paul II on Good Friday in Rome.
Many faithful stood under umbrellas in pouring rain for hours to
get a good view of the procession. The rain stopped shortly before
the pope arrived at the Colosseum. Among the procession
participants was a young woman from Madrid, included as a sign of
solidarity with Spain after the deadly March 11 train bombings
there.

An 18-foot cross dominates the Way of the Cross torchlight procession attended by Pope John Paul II on Good Friday in Rome. Many faithful stood under umbrellas in pouring rain for hours to get a good view of the procession. The rain stopped shortly before the pope arrived at the Colosseum. Among the procession participants was a young woman from Madrid, included as a sign of solidarity with Spain after the deadly March 11 train bombings there.

Pope John Paul II attends the torchlight procession on Good Friday
in Rome.

Pope John Paul II attends the torchlight procession on Good Friday in Rome.

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