Pope celebrates Chrism Mass in St Peter’s Basilica

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On Maundy Thursday, Pope Francis celebrated the Chrism Mass in St Peter’s Basilica with priests from the Diocese of Rome and the Vatican Curia. This Mass marks the beginning of the great liturgical celebrations around Easter.

During the Mass, holy oils were consecrated, which are used for baptisms, confirmations, anointings of the sick, and ordinations. The Pope, who had recently canceled several appointments due to bronchitis, was pushed to the altar in a wheelchair.

In his sermon, he called on the priests to look with love at those who are far from the faith. “The Lord asks us, his shepherds, not to make contemptuous judgements about those who do not believe, but to love those who are far from the faith,” said Pope Francis in his homily at the Chrism Mass.
Ritual foot washing in a women’s prison
The second major liturgy on Maundy Thursday is the Mass of the Last Supper with the traditional washing of feet, which the Pope will perform in the afternoon in the women’s prison in Rebibbia in Rome. There, the head of the Catholic Church will celebrate the Last Supper service together with the inmates and then perform the ritual washing of the feet. The ritual goes back to a gesture made by Jesus Christ to his disciples at the Last Supper and is a sign of humility.

According to the Vatican program for Easter week, the Pope intends to preside over all the celebrations himself despite his health problems – including the traditional Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum.

Way of the Cross at the Colosseum with the Pope
On Good Friday, the Good Friday liturgy will be celebrated in St Peter’s Basilica from 5.00 pm, and the Stations of the Cross will take place at the Colosseum from 9.15 pm. The meditations on the fourteen Stations of the Cross read out during the celebration were written by Pope Francis himself this year.
Easter Sunday begins with the celebration of the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday in St Peter’s Basilica, which is again scheduled relatively early this year at 7.30 pm. The big Easter Mass on Easter Sunday is planned for St Peter’s Square. This will be followed at 12.00 noon by the solemn distribution of the papal blessing “Urbi et orbi” (“to the city and the world”) from the loggia of St Peter’s Basilica.

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