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Archive for Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pope presides over Way of the Cross

April 11, 2009

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A large, fire-lit cross overlooks the ancient Colosseum prior to the start of the Good Friday Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession, celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI before the ancient monument on Friday in Rome. The evening Via Crucis procession at the ancient amphitheater is a Rome tradition that draws a large crowd of faithful, including many of the pilgrims who flock to the Italian capital for Holy Week ceremonies before Easter Sunday.

A large, fire-lit cross overlooks the ancient Colosseum prior to the start of the Good Friday Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession, celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI before the ancient monument on Friday in Rome. The evening Via Crucis procession at the ancient amphitheater is a Rome tradition that draws a large crowd of faithful, including many of the pilgrims who flock to the Italian capital for Holy Week ceremonies before Easter Sunday.

— Pope Benedict XVI presided over a torch-lit Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum on Good Friday and said he was praying so that people who suffered losses in Italy’s devastating quake can see the light of hope in their dark hour.

Tens of thousands of faithful, clutching prayer books and candles in paper lanterns, turned out for the traditional Holy Week appointment at the ancient Roman arena.

“Let us pray for all those who feel sorrow, above all for those suffering in the quake-stricken area of L’Aquila,” Benedict urged, speaking at the end of the procession about the Apennine mountain town near the epicenter.

“Let us pray that the star of hope appears to them in this dark night,” he said.

Suffering and hope were the motif of the meditations read aloud as faithful carried the slender, lightweight cross in the shadows cast by the Colosseum’s massive stones.

Benedict told the faithful they had come to “sing together a hymn of hope. We want to tell ourselves that all is not lost in moments of difficulty.”

Benedict, who turns 82 next week, wore a crimson-colored, ermine-trimmed cape against the cool night air. Kneeling on a terrace overlooking the Colosseum, he folded his hands in prayer and bowed his head in reflection.

The ritual commemorates Jesus’ suffering in the hours before his crucifixion and his death on the cross.

Jesus’ face is “reflected in that of every person who is humiliated and offended, sick and suffering, alone, abandoned and despised,” Benedict said.

Through his suffering, Jesus has “broken the solitude of our tears, he has entered our every grief and our every anxiety,” the pope said in remarks at the end of the 90-minute long procession.

Among those holding the cross were a young man in a wheelchair and a mother flanked by her family.

A candlelit cross atop one of the monument’s stone tiers twinkled in the night.

Holy Week ceremonies culminate in Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square. Tonight, the pope will celebrate an Easter vigil Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

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