For the second year in a row, all events that mark Jesus’ death on the cross will be celebrated within the walls of the Vatican due to the coronavirus pandemic and without the presence of crowds of believers as in the past.
Francis will also not attend the ceremony on the afternoon of this Holy Thursday in the Roman basilica of Saint John, which recalls the Last Supper of Jesus with his apostles and was in charge of the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re.
Francisco, 84 and who often suffers from sciatica that makes him walk with difficulty, chose not to participate in this symbolic act.
In other years, the Argentine pontiff celebrated Holy Thursday in a prison and in a refugee center, and washed the feet of detainees and immigrants, including Muslims, as a message of humility and tolerance.
In a note, the Vatican recalls that the coronavirus pandemic drama has changed the way of celebrating around the world and highlights that, “as in the past year,” the foot washing rite will be “omitted” due to restrictions imposed in many countries .
During the so-called “chrism mass” on Holy Thursday morning, when the oils to be used in the sacraments are blessed, the pope spoke of the “crosses” that weigh on humanity and acknowledged that “we live in an age marked by scandals” and that it is necessary to reject them as “poison”.
Due to the sanitary restrictions imposed by the pandemic in Italy, liturgical ceremonies will take place “with a limited presence of the faithful” with regard to the planned sanitary measures, the Vatican specified.
As in the past year, the Pontiff will preside over Good Friday on Via Crucis in St. Peter’s Square and not around the Colosseum at night, as was the tradition.
The extraordinary and lonely image of Francis in the middle of an empty St. Peter’s Square became a symbol last year of the global tragedy unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic, in which the leader of 1.3 billion Catholics spoke of “the darkest hour” in the face of the death drama due to covid-19.
This year, according to Vatican press officer Matteo Bruni, Good Friday meditations were written by a group of Scout children from Umbria (central Italy) and the Roman parish of the Holy Martyrs of Uganda.
The different stations will be illustrated by the drawings made by children who live in accommodation in Rome and who have suffered discrimination and humiliation.
On Easter Sunday, April 4, the pope will give the traditional blessing “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) in St. Peter’s Basilica, during which he sends a message to Catholics and talks about the conflicts that plague the world .
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