Pope Francis presides over the Way of the Cross, in the almost empty St. Peter’s Square: a touching symbol of the solitude and isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, imbued with the hope provided by the reflections prepared by children.
By Linda Bordoni
The loneliness and isolation of men and women around the world, cut off from their families and friends, deprived of work and livelihoods, living in fear of an uncertain future for themselves and their children, were touchingly present during the Way of the Cross. on the second day of the Easter Triduum 2021
For the second year in a row, Pope Francis is leading the traditional Good Friday Via Crucis in the almost empty St. Peter’s Square due to restrictions imposed by the Italian government to limit the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A lone figure in white, sitting in the center of a bare stage in front of the basilica, the Holy Father looked at the darkened square, where few children, accompanied by their parents, catechists and teachers, took turns carrying a cross around the obelisk.
One by one, they read their reflections as their companions carried the Cross in a circular path marked by burning torches on the ground in the center of the square.
In fact, this year the pope chose to entrust to children and young people – symbols of hope and the future – the preparation of meditation for 2021 Way of the Cross.
The tradition of Via Crucis
More than 50 years since Pope Paul VI revived the ancient Via Crucis tradition in 1964, popes have conducted this powerful ritual that reproduces the passion and death of Jesus Christ against the backdrop of the Roman Colosseum. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, restrictions imposed to limit infections have affected all public events, including this one. However, it is broadcast and is broadcast to a global audience of hundreds of millions on all continents through the Vatican media.
Each station begins with a reading from the relevant passage in the gospel account of passion, followed by meditation. This was followed by the reading of a prayer by the Pope and the singing of a hymn.
There is no need of any words
It was clear that Pope Francis did not need words or preach.
Silence and contemplation of the crucifixion were the most powerful means of communication in a muted world where the virus continues to bring sorrow and solitude and where marginalization, unemployment, poverty, injustice and the “virus” of indifference continue to cause death and despair.
Children: hope for the future
During the 14th and last station, it was emphasized how children and young people hold the key and the hope of rebirth: “Lord, merciful Father”, reads the prayer, “once again this year we followed your Son Jesus on the way of the cross. We followed him, listening to the voices and prayers of the children, which you yourself set before us as a model for entering your kingdom. ”
Help us to be like them: small, in need of everything, open to life. Let us regain purity of heart and the ability to see things in a clear light.
We ask you to bless and protect every child in our world. May all children grow in wisdom, age, and grace so that they may know and follow your special plan for their happiness.
The words were clearly superfluous to Pope Francis tonight: A lone prophet in white in the center of a vast and darkened scene, the pope gave his apostolic blessing, thanked the children for their reflections, and slowly made his way, on foot, back to the Basilica.
Images from 2021 Via Crucis in St. Peter’s Square, led by Pope Francis