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Children lead the way in Italy’s reduced Good Friday service

Pope Francis held a scaled down 'Way of the Cross' service on Friday in a quiet St. Peter's Square due to Italy's lockdown measures. The poignant procession saw children take the spotlight to share their dreams and fears.

Children lead the way in Italy's reduced Good Friday service
A girl hands the Cross to Pope Francis as he leads the celebration of the Way of the Cross (Via Crucis) as part of Good Friday on April 2, 2021 at St. Peter's square in the Vatican, during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Angelo CARCONI / POOL / AFP)

Rome’s famous Via Crucis religious service commemorated the final hours of Jesus’ life in an empty St. Peter’s Square, cleared out of tourists in compliance with coronavirus restrictions.

Crowds numbering tens of thousands usually attend the torchlit vigil, but this year only around 200 people looked on at a distance.

READ ALSO: Why is Good Friday not a holiday in Italy?

Candles were placed across the square in front of St. Peter’s Basilica to form the shape of a cross. The tradition goes that the Pope moves around the 14 Stations of the Cross, saying meditations at each one.

Children and young people of Rome observe the Stations of the Cross during the celebration of the Way of the Cross (Via Crucis) led by Pope Francis (Rear C) as part of Good Friday on April 2, 2021 at St. Peter’s square in the Vatican, during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

This year, children wrote these prayers. Boy and girl scouts from Umbria and schoolchildren from Rome read out their worship, stopping at each Station as a group.

Each prayer related the experiences of children to those of Jesus. In a moving homage to the 13th Station, when Jesus was believed to be taken down from the cross, a child told a story of an ambulance coming to take his grandfather away, who later died of Covid-19.

READ ALSO: Six Easter-inspired Italian phrases explained

Children and young people of Rome (L) observe the Stations of the Cross during the celebration of the Way of the Cross (Via Crucis) led by Pope Francis (Rear C) as part of Good Friday. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP)

It’s the second consecutive year the proceedings didn’t take place at the capital’s Colosseum, which by now have become an Easter tradition since Pope Paul VI brought back the service in 1964.

Easter Masses are due to be held across the Easter weekend, culminating in the key date on the Christian calendar, Easter Sunday, when the Pope delivers his message, “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world).

Member comments

  1. What a fantastic informative website.
    For my wife and I stranded in New Zealand since October 2019 because of Covid, and unable to return to our holiday home in Lunigiana, it really is a lifeline to the magic of Italy with its proud culinary heritage, amazing old buildings and fascinating culture.

    Richard Mortlock

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POPE FRANCIS

Pope says he has signed resignation letter should health fail

Pope Francis revealed for the first time in an interview Sunday that he had signed a resignation letter nearly a decade ago should poor health prevent him from carrying out his duties.

Pope says he has signed resignation letter should health fail

Francis — who turned 86 on Saturday — has said in the past that he would step down from the papacy should health problems keep him from his duties.

In Spanish newspaper ABC, the pontiff said he signed his resignation letter and handed it over to the Vatican’s secretary of state, Tarcisio Bertone, before that cardinal’s retirement in 2013.

“I signed the resignation and I told him, ‘In case of medical impediment or whatever, here’s my resignation. You have it’,” the pope said.

Asked by the interviewer whether he wanted that fact to be known, Francis replied: “That’s why I’m telling you.”

He added that he didn’t know what Bertone subsequently did with the letter.

Francis has been limited in his ability to walk by an inoperable knee condition which has forced him to rely on a wheelchair in recent months.

The pope has had to cancel or curtail activities several times over the past year because of pain and, in an interview in July, he acknowledged that he needed to slow down.

“I think that at my age and with this limitation, I have to save myself a little bit to be able to serve the Church. Or, alternatively, to think about the possibility of stepping aside,” he said.

Francis’s predecessor, Benedict XVI, quit over failing health in 2013. He now lives quietly in Vatican City.

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