Skip to comments.Pope leads Good Friday procession in Rome's Colosseum
Posted on 04/06/2007 6:46:57 PM PDT by NYer
Pope Benedict XVI led a torchlit procession at Rome's Colosseum on Good Friday, the most sombre day of the Christian calendar commemorating Christ's crucifixion, as tens of thousands of pilgrims looked on.
Holding flickering candles cupped in coloured paper, they massed around the ancient Roman arena as the 79-year-old leader of the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics carried a simple cross during the first and last portions of the Way of the Cross procession.
At the end, the pope addressed the throng, standing beside a giant cross made up of dozens of flaming candles that had overlooked the solemn observance while floodlights and torches bathed the Colosseum in a golden light.
He asked the faithful to "pray for all those who suffer in the world" and said that the "worst sin is insensitivity and hardness of heart."
During the procession, to symbolise the universality of the Church, youths from the Republic of Congo, Chili, South Korea, China and Angola, a family from the Rome diocese and two Franciscan monks had taken turns carrying the cross.
Italian Bible scholar Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi of Milan had the responsibility this year of penning meditations on Biblical passages accompanying each of the 14 Stations of the Cross.
His reflections during the Ninth Station, when Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem, focused on the plight of women through history.
Ravasi noted that Jesus was "surrounded by a world of mothers, daughters and sisters."
He urged reflection on all women "who have been abused and raped, ostracised and submitted to shameful tribal practices," as well as "Jewish and Palestinian mothers, and those from all countries at war, widows and the elderly forgotten by their children".
Despite the feminine theme, notably absent from this year's procession was Veronica, a figure from Christian legend who offered Jesus a cloth with which to wipe his face.
Ravasi selected an alternative Way of the Cross first introduced by Benedict's predecessor John Paul II in 1991 that does not refer to Veronica and that includes references to Judas and Pontius Pilate.
John Paul II proposed the alternative, last used in 2004, to allow deeper reflection on purely scriptural accounts of Christ's Passion.
Earlier Friday, Benedict presided over Good Friday mass at St Peter's Basilica.
The homily was delivered, as tradition dictates, by the Preacher to the Papal Household instead of the pope, and it also focused on the role of women.
Women's "presence beside the Crucified and the Risen holds a vital lesson for us today: our civilisation dominated by technology needs a heart for man to survive," said Raniero Cantalamessa, a Franciscan Capuchin priest.
"We should give more room to 'reasons of the heart' if we want to prevent our planet, while it is warming physically, to plunge spiritually into an ice age," he said.
Benedict began four days of commemorations to mark Easter week on Thursday when he presided over a mass commemorating the Last Supper and the traditional washing of the feet.
The mass was held in St John in Lateran cathedral in Rome, of which the pope is bishop.
Also Thursday, Benedict celebrated the annual Chrismal mass in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, traditionally blessing the holy oils used in sacraments throughout the year.
On Holy Saturday, the pope will preside over an Easter vigil in St Peter's Basilica during which pilgrims will hold candles and renew their baptismal vows.
On Easter Sunday, the most joyous day of the Christian year, celebrating Christ's Resurrection, the pope will deliver the traditional "Urbi et Orbi" (To the City and the World) Easter message from the central loggia of St Peter's Basilica.
Pope Benedict XVI carries a wooden cross, during the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession celebrated by the pontiff on Good Friday at the ancient Colosseum in Rome, Friday, April 6, 2007. The evening Via Crucis procession at the ancient Colosseum amphitheater is a Rome tradition that draws a large crowd of faithful, including many of the pilgrims who flock to the Italian capital for Holy Week ceremonies before Easter Sunday. (AP Photo/Maurizio Brambatti, Pool)
A message worth pondering in our personal lives. May God continue to bless this humble servant!
When I visited Rome in 1999, I arrived on Good Friday. My Dad and I decided to head to the Coliseum to see the Stations of the Cross. It was incredible. First walking through the Circus Maximus and approaching the Arch of Constantine is awesome, when you realize all the history. Then you crest the hill and there it is. Quite beautiful, quite intense.
I just finished watching this a little while ago on EWTN. It was very beautiful.
Indescribable, isn't it! I have visited the Colosseum several times. It is a place where time is frozen and one can practically hear the cheer of the crowds and the singing of the Christians as they are led forth to their execution.
We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee, because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.
” said that the “worst sin is insensitivity and hardness of heart.”
Really? Worse than child rape and murder? Worse than cannibalism? Worse than genocide? Worse than starting a bloody war for personal aggrandizement and enrichment, as Saddam did at least twice?
The “worst” sin? Really?
I can’t believe he said that. Matter of fact, I don’t think I will believe it until I see it reliably corroborated.
I agree that one can’t take a news source at face value.
On the other hand, one might also say that all the sins you mention are manifestations of “insensitivity and hardness of heart.”
“Insensitivity” has become a “cringe word,” I have to admit (and goodness what the Pope really said, in whatever language he used :-). However, “hardness of heart” is a central Gospel theme, and also found in the Old Testament, as a source and result of sin.
I see what you’re saying, but I wouldn’t say that insensitivity and hardness of heart alone would induce a person to commit those sins. I think a hefty shot of evil would also be necessary.
However, assuming that the Pope said something like what's reported, I would understand him to mean that "hardness of heart" is evil, because it means that you fail to recognize the humanity of others.
"Hardness of heart" would be another way of saying "Doesn't love God and neighbor," violating both the Great Commandments.
The west hasn’t experienced it yet but the near East and the far East has.
I pray for strength.
From that sin all others come out. Without insensitivity, there is not the looking at people like they are things. Without hardness of heart, there is not the willingness to use a person in rape. They are the roots of much evil.
You are right about that.
I’m not for sure if this article is WND hysteria or for real, but it’s an example of things coming our way:
i was at the seminary of the fraternity of saint peter in southern germany for good friday. :-D
very cool place, with very cool liturgy - About 4.5hours of gregorian chanting, traditional liturgy etc!!!
Are you still in Germany?
About 4.5hours of gregorian chanting, traditional liturgy etc!!
What an experience! You will remember this all your life.
yes i am still in germany.
It really was amazing seeing ca.60 seminarians and priests in cassocks and their white surplices making full use of the 3000 (that includes jewish prayers from the Old testament and many prayers from the early church in greek) year history of prayer and liturgy of the church. I am going again on a pilgrimage to chartres at pentecost with them :D
its hard to understand the ‘modernists’ and their constant attacks on tradi’s. Maybe they have simply never been to a beautiful old mass?
I hope you had a blessed easter!
the 4.5hours of chant was split between two hours in the morning ca.20mins for sext and then ca.2hours in the evening. From what I heard it was like this for all of holy week, i was only there for 2 days, Holy Thursday and Good Friday
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