Pope Francis, for the second year in a row due to restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, led the ceremony of the Way of the Cross (Via Crucis) on Good Friday at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, rather than outside the walls of the Colosseum.
In the evening, the pontiff celebrated the Mass of Remembrance of the Lord’s Passion in the Vatican Basilica. Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the Papal House, delivered a sermon there. According to the tradition that has been in effect for the last half-century, soon after the end of the solemn divine service, the pontiff was to go to the Colosseum, where, according to legend, the first Christians were martyred.
However, due to the pandemic, like a year ago, Pope Francis went to the porch of St. Peter’s at nine o’clock in the evening to lead a procession dedicated to the memory of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.
This time, the Via Crucis ceremony was again held on an empty square in front of the main Catholic church in the world, along which a small group of children carried the cross, accompanied by nuns and teachers with torches in their hands. All of them performed the traditional 14 stations of the Way of the Cross. During each of them and excerpts from the Gospel, prayer reflections were read, which this year were written by children from one of the parishes of Rome and scouts from the Italian region of Umbria.
The procession walked around the famous obelisk, brought to Rome from Egypt by the emperor Caligula, and ascended to the Vatican Basilica porch, where the cross was handed over to Pope Francis. He himself did not take a direct part in bearing the cross but only read prayers. In addition to the pontiff, Via Crucis witnessed a tiny group of cardinals, priests, monastics and laity. At the end of the hour-long ceremony, the Pope hugged four children – three boys and a girl, who ran out onto the porch of the cathedral and left St. Peter’s Square.
In connection with the emergency measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which are now in place in the Vatican, all Holy Week services and rituals are held here with the participation of only a small number of clergy and laity. However, the live online broadcast of all these events is carried out by the Holy See Vatican News’s information portal.