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Pope Francis appeared before the faithful on Holy Saturday. The day before, he was missing on the Way of the Cross

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A day after the pope's absence at the Stations of the Cross caused uproar among the faithful, Francis presided over Mass on Holy Saturday. During the homily, he spoke, among other things, about hope for nations “broken by evil and scourged by injustice, nations without a place, nations of martyrs.”

Pope Francis arrived at St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday, where he presided over the Easter Vigil Mass. The Mass on Holy Saturday is the longest in the liturgical year. About six thousand people gathered there.

The Holy Father appeared before the faithful a day after he caused a stir absence during Friday's Stations of the Cross in the Colosseum. The fact that the 87-year-old head of the Church would not appear at the service was announced only when it began. The Vatican explained this decision by concern for “preserving” his health before Saturday's mass.

“Sometimes we feel that the entrance to our heart is burdened with a grave stone”

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In his homily, Francis referred to the image of Jesus' grave, covered with stone. He recalled the women's question from the Gospel according to Saint Mark: “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”

As the pope said, “this stone, being an insurmountable obstacle, was a symbol of what the women carried in their hearts, the end of their hopes.”

Pope Francis during Holy Saturday mass in the Vatican BasilicaPAP/EPA/GIUSEPPE LAMI

– It could happen to us too. Sometimes we feel that the entrance to our heart is burdened with a grave stone that suppresses life, extinguishes trust, traps us in a tomb of fears and bitterness, blocks the path to joy and hope – he noted. These are – he said – “boulders of death”.

According to him, they can be encountered in experiences and situations that “rob us of the enthusiasm and strength to move on.”

Francis on “longing for peace”

This happens “in the sufferings that touch us and in the deaths of people dear to us, which leave us with an overwhelming void.” – In failures and fears that prevent us from doing all the good that we hold dear. In all the closures that inhibit our impulse of generosity and do not allow us to open ourselves to love. Within the armored walls of selfishness and indifference that destroy the effort to build more just cities and societies tailored to humans, he continued.

Francis then spoke of “the longing for peace shattered by the cruelty of hatred and the brutality of war.” – When we experience these disappointments, we too ask ourselves anxiously: who will roll away the stone from the grave? – He was asking.

He further declared: – This is Christ's Passover, this is the power of God: the victory of life over death, the triumph of light over darkness, the rebirth of hope on the ruins of defeat.

– If we allow ourselves to be carried away by the Risen One, no failure, no suffering, no death will be able to stop our path to the fullness of life – he argued.

Francis encouraged “nations broken by evil and scourged by injustice, nations without a place, nations of martyrs” to “sing” the resurrection of Jesus to drive away the “singers of despair.”

Basilica in darkness and the symbolic light of Paschal candle

The solemn mass led by the Pope was preceded in the vestibule of the Vatican Basilica by the rite of consecration of the fire and preparation of the paschal candle, i.e. a large candle symbolizing the Risen Christ. Then, in the dark basilica, where only candles in the hands of the mass participants were visible, there was a procession with a tall paschal candle to the main altar of the temple.

Francis appeared before the faithful on SaturdayPAP/EPA/GIUSEPPE LAMI

During the mass, Francis baptized eight adults: four from Italy, two from South Korea, and one each from Albania and Japan.

During the mass, the Pope baptized eight adultsPAP/EPA/GIUSEPPE LAMI

Main photo source: PAP/EPA/GIUSEPPE LAMI



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