Pope Francis celebrated Palm Sunday Mass before 60,000 faithful in St. Peter’s Square

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To kick off Holy Week, Pope Francis celebrated Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. During it, he called on the faithful to pray even more intensely for peace in Ukraine.

After leaving the “Agostino Gemelli” hospital in Rome on Saturday after a four-day stay, Pope Francis celebrated the liturgical celebration of Palm Sunday on Sunday morning as a prelude to Holy Week. In a car, the Pope arrived at St. Peter’s Square and got out near the obelisk to perform the rite of blessing olive branches before 60,000 faithful.

Pope called for intense prayers for peace in Ukraine
Francis wore a white cloak over which he had placed the red stole for the blessing liturgy. Pilgrims gathered in Rome waved olive branches in welcome. These commemorate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. About 100 young people, bishops and cardinals moved to the altar before St. Peter’s Basilica through St. Peter’s Square. There the Pope celebrated Mass together with Cardinal Leonardo Sandri of Argentina. The Pope walked to the altar with the help of a walking stick.

The square in front of St. Peter’s Basilica was decorated with flowers from the Netherlands. In the days before the celebration, thousands of chairs were set up for the visitors. The Pope thanked the pilgrims for their prayers for his recovery. He also remembered the sufferings of the Ukrainian people. He called on the faithful to pray more intensely for peace in Ukraine during Holy Week.

Palm Sunday Mass to kick off “Holy Week.”
Some 1.7 billion Catholic and Protestant Christians worldwide begin “Holy Week,” the high point of the church year, on Palm Sunday. Palm branches are traditionally carried in the church procession on the Sunday before Easter, blessed with holy water and then placed behind crucifixes in homes. The Palm Sunday liturgy commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and kicks off the liturgy for Holy Week.

Pope Francis to celebrate Easter services as planned
After his release from the hospital, Pope Francis will celebrate Holy Week and Easter services as planned. For example, the Vatican confirmed the celebration of Mass on Holy Thursday, which usually includes the rite of foot washing. He said Francis would go to the Casal del Marmo juvenile detention center in northwest Rome for the occasion. Francis has been visiting detention centers on Holy Thursday for years, celebrating the service with prisoners there in memory of Jesus’ Last Supper, when he washed his disciples’ feet. This gesture of humility is still part of the Maundy Thursday service today.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni initially left open whether the Pope will also participate in the traditional evening Good Friday Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum. Because of the still-cool temperatures in Rome at night, it is widely expected that Francis will cancel this appointment in consideration of his health.

Pope hospitalized for several days due to bronchitis
According to the information, the Pope will preside as planned during Easter week services while a cardinal celebrates at the altar. This division has been practiced at the Vatican for about a year because the Pope’s mobility is severely limited due to knee ailments.

Francis had been treated for bronchitis at the Gemelli Clinic in Rome from Wednesday until Saturday morning. The 86-year-old was admitted to the clinic Wednesday and treated with antibiotics for “infectious bronchitis.” Francis’ hospitalization had fueled speculation about a possible resignation of the church leader.

  • source: vienna.at/picture: screenshot, orf.at
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