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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Rome. The Stations of the Cross service is underway at the Colosseum

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Stations of the Cross service takes place in the Colosseum in Rome. Thousands of people gathered around the Flavian amphitheater. Earlier, the Vatican announced that due to the low temperatures in Rome, the pope will not attend. Francis presided over the Good Friday liturgy of the Lord’s Passion in the Basilica of St. Peter.

The Stations of the Cross service at the Colosseum began at 21.15. Francis is not presiding over the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum for the first time since the beginning of his pontificate. He watches the service from the Vatican’s House of Santa Marta, which was explained by the intense cold in the Eternal City. The Pope is recovering from a recent bronchitis that led to his hospitalization.

Thousands of people gathered around the Flavian amphitheater. The cross is carried, among others, by migrants and refugees, the charges of the Astalla church center in Rome.

Stations of the Cross in the Roman ColosseumPAP/EPA/ANGELO CARCONI

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“Words of peace in a world full of war” – this is the motto of this year’s reflections accompanying 14 stations.

Each text of the reflections is a testimony of a person about conflicts, war, terrorism, violence, torture, pain, the tragedy of migration. The authors of the considerations come from the Holy Land, Ukraine and Russia, several countries in Africa, South and Central America, and Asia. They are migrants and refugees, mothers, priests. They all experienced suffering, torture and had to flee from areas of conflict and violence. The whole thing adds up to a dramatic picture of “the Third World War in pieces”, as the Pope calls the current situation.

The text of the considerations was announced less than four hours before the Stations of the Cross, which happened for the first time.

Stations of the Cross in the Roman ColosseumPAP/EPA/FABIO FRUSTACI

The greatest emotions are caused by the repetition of the scenario from a year ago, when the reflections for one of the Via Crucis stations were written jointly by a Ukrainian and a Russian woman. This year it was done by a young Ukrainian from Mariupol, who was a refugee in Italy and returned to his country, and a young Russian who lost his brother in the war.

It is presumed that it was for this reason that the Vatican announced the text of the deliberations almost at the last minute. Last year, after a polemic that lasted several days, the text of the Russian woman and the Ukrainian woman was finally not read out, and the faithful were asked to pray in silence for peace.

The re-election of a person from Ukraine and Russia is interpreted as a confirmation of the line of the Holy See, which wants to pursue peace through dialogue with both sides.

Francis presided over the liturgy of the Lord’s Passion

Pope Francis presided over the afternoon liturgy of the Lord’s Passion in the Basilica of St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, where he arrived in a wheelchair. Then he prayed for a long time before the altar.

Pope Francis Reuters

During the service in the basilica, the homily was not preached by the pope, but, as has been the case since the pontificate of John Paul II, by the preacher of the Papal Household, who is currently the 88-year-old Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa.

In his sermon, the 88-year-old monk said that for a century and a half in the “secularized Western world” a “different death of God”, “ideological, not historical”, has been preached.

He recalled words from Nietzsche’s text: “Where is God? We killed him – you and I.”

– Evidently, in the place of God, nothing is put, but man, and more precisely, “superman” or “last man.” It is now necessary to say about this new man – with a sense of contentment and pride, not pity: “Ecce homo” – this is a real man – said the preacher. He also warned: – But we will not fail to realize that a man left to himself is nothing.


Cardinal Cantalamessa also pointed out that “in the intellectual circles of the postmodern West” one breathes an atmosphere whose “common denominator” is “complete relativism in every field: ethics, language, philosophy, art and, of course, religion.”

– Nothing is solid anymore, everything is liquid, or even evaporating. In the times of Romanticism we wallowed in melancholy, today in nihilism – said Cardinal Cantalamessa. He stressed that believers must be protected from this nihilism and called it “the black hole of the spiritual universe.”

The Vatican has not announced any changes to the rest of the papal Holy Week schedule. Francis is scheduled to preside over the celebrations Saturday night at St. Peter’s Square, and on Easter Sunday he is to give his bi-annual blessing “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. Peter.

Main photo source: PAP/EPA/FABIO FRUSTACI

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