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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Way of the Cross in the Colosseum. At the 10th station, children from Ukraine and Russia came to the fore

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“Words of peace in a world full of war” – this is the title of the reflections read during the Way of the Cross in the Roman Colosseum on Good Friday. For the first time, Pope Francis, who watched from the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta, where he lives, was absent from the service.

About 20,000 people gathered around the Flavian amphitheater during the Stations of the Cross in the Roman Coliseum. Each text at the next station was a testimony about conflicts, war, terrorism, violence, torture, pain, and the tragedy of migration.

The authors of the considerations come from the Holy Land, Ukraine and Russia, countries of Africa, South and Central America, Asia. Reflections were written by migrants and refugees, mothers, youth, clergymen; all suffered.

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

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The whole thing adds up to a dramatic picture of “the Third World War in pieces”, as the Pope calls the current situation. The cross was carried by people from the areas mentioned in the meditations, but not by their authors. Among them were children with handkerchiefs in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

The Way of the Cross began with the words of prayer: “Lord Jesus, you are our peace. Before the Passion, you said: ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, I give you.’ Lord, we need your peace, this peace which We cannot build on our own alone.

Words from Israel, West Africa and Central America

At the first station, the words of peace from the Holy Land sounded: “Violence seems to be our only language. The mechanism of mutual retaliation is constantly fueled by our own pain, which often becomes the only criterion for judgment. Justice and forgiveness cannot talk to each other. We live together, no recognizing each other, denying each other’s existence, condemning each other, in an endless and increasingly brutal vicious circle. They were followed by an invitation to dialogue, justice and forgiveness.

The experiences of a West African migrant who crossed the desert and arrived at Libyawhere he was locked up in a detention center – “the worst place in the world”, he added. He confessed: “Every night I asked God why: why should people like us be considered enemies? So many people fleeing war wear crosses similar to mine.”

Stations of the Cross at the ColosseumPAP/EPA/ANGELO CARCONI

Young people from Central America wrote about the “spiral of drug trafficking, violence, addiction and exploitation of people” and “the impunity of those who cheat, kidnap and kill”. A South American woman described her experience when she and her young daughter were injured by a bomb planted by guerrillas.

A monk from the Balkans told about his imprisonment and torture. There were also testimonies of teenagers from North Africa staying in a refugee camp.

Letters from a young Ukrainian and a Russian were read out

Reflections at the 10th station – “Jesus stripped of his clothes” – were presented as “words of peace from young people from Ukraine and Russia“.

A Ukrainian boy wrote: “Last year my dad and mum took me and my little brother to Italianwhere our grandmother has been working for over 20 years. We left Mariupol at night. At the border, the soldiers stopped my father and told him that he had to stay in Ukraine to fight. We continued on the bus for two more days.”

He added: “I was sad when I arrived in Italy. I felt stripped of everything: completely naked. I didn’t speak the language and I had no friends. Grandma tried very hard to make me happy but all I said was that I wanted to go home. In the end my family decided to return to Ukraine. Here the situation is still difficult, there is a war going on everywhere, the city is destroyed. But in my heart I still have the certainty that my grandmother told me when I was crying: ‘You will see that everything will pass. And with the help good God, peace will return.

Participants of the Way of the Cross in the Roman Colosseum on Good FridayFABIO FRUSTACI/PAP/EPA

The words of the young Russian then resounded: “I am a Russian boy…when I say this I almost feel guilty, but at the same time I don’t understand why and I feel doubly bad. Stripped of happiness and dreams for the future.”

“For the last two years I have seen my grandma and my mother crying. We were informed of the death of my elder brother in a letter, and I still remember him on his 18th birthday, smiling and shining like the sun, all just a few weeks before we left on a long journey. Everyone told us that we must be proud, but at home there was only a lot of suffering and sadness, the same happened to dad and grandpa, they also left and we don’t know anything else about them,” the Russian boy wrote.

He added: “Someone of my school friends whispered in my ear with great fear that there was a war. On my way home I wrote a prayer: Jesus, please, let there be peace in the whole world and that we may all be brothers.”

Voices from the Middle East and South Africa

At the 11th station, a young resident of the Middle East described his suffering: “In 2012, groups of armed extremists attacked our neighborhood, killing people on balconies and apartment blocks with machine gun fire. I was nine years old. I remember the anguish of my mother and father. hugged and in prayer, aware of the new difficult reality that was ahead of us.

The brutal crime committed against the missionary was told by a nun from East Africa, and the girls from South Africa told about the tortures they suffered.

The Way of the Cross ended with 14 thanks to Jesus, including for the gentleness that overcomes arrogance, for the courage with which he embraced the cross, and for the peace that flows from his wounds.

Did not connect during transmission the Vaticanwhere Francis followed the service.

Main photo source: FABIO FRUSTACI/PAP/EPA



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