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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Every year, on Good Friday, thousands of pilgrims go to the Colosseum to take part in the “Via Crucis” (the Way of the Cross) to honor and remember the Passion of Jesus.
As Pope Francis overlooked the crowds of faithful, the 14 stations of the Cross were carried out by priests, friars, sisters and laypeople from different parts of the world.
The ceremony included a series of prayers to reflect on Jesus’ Passion and his message.
Leading his first Way of the Cross as Pontiff, Pope Francis said only a few words are necessary to understand God’s message
“Lord, we too carry a cross of suffering and illnesses, but we accept it because You are with us.”
Leading his first Way of the Cross as Pontiff, Pope Francis said only a few words are necessary to understand God’s message.
“Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, forgiveness.”
The Cross was carried by families from India and another from Italy. There was an ill person on a wheelchair and also people from countries were Christians are often persecuted.
A group of Catholics from Lebanon helped organize the reflections and meditations that were read during the ceremony. They made reference to the daily challenges Christians face in some regions, especially in the Middle East, for practicing their faith.