Pope Francis has begun leading the traditional Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) at the Colosseum in Rome at 9.15 pm local time (3.15pm EDT) on Good Friday.
The meditations for the 14 Stations of the Cross have been written this year by Monsenior Renato Corti, Bishop Emeritus of Novara in Italy.
Pope Francis has repeatedly lamented Christian suffering in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere. Reflecting this concern, among those chosen to take turns carrying the cross in the Way of the Cross procession in the ancient arena were faithful from Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Egypt and China. Several Italian families also carried the lightweight cross for a few steps.
Standing under a red canopy on the warm evening, Pope Francis listened to prayers affirming the right of religious freedom. Tens of thousands of tourists, pilgrims and Romans held candles as they watched.
Good Friday recalls Jesus’ death by crucifixion.
Earlier this afternoon, Pope Francis presided at the liturgy of the Passion of Our Lord in St. Peter’s basilica. As is customary, the homily was given by the preacher of the papal household, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFMCap.
After several Holy Week ceremonies, Pope Francis will celebrate Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square Sunday, April 5.
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