The Holy Father will follow the same program as Pope John Paul II did until his state of health impeded him, according to the program published today by the Office for Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.
Benedict XVI will prepare for Palm Sunday at a meeting in St. Peter's Square this Thursday with young people of Rome and the Latium region. Palm Sunday will also be World Youth Day, celebrated this year at the diocesan level.
During the celebration, the pilgrim cross will be received, brought from Cologne, Germany, where World Youth Day was held last August. Also arriving in Rome will be a delegation from Australia, which will host World Youth Day 2008.
At 9:30 a.m. on Palm Sunday, the Pope will bless palms and olive branches in St. Peter's Square and, at the end of the procession, will celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Passion.
Benedict XVI has introduced a novelty in the Holy Week celebrations in the Vatican. At 5:30 p.m. on April 11, Holy Tuesday, a Celebration of Penance will take place in St. Peter's Basilica.
According to the program, "at the request of the Holy Father, the Lord Cardinal James Francis Stafford, major penitentiary, will preside over the rite of the reconciliation of penitents, with individual confession and absolution."
On Holy Thursday, April 13, at 9:30 a.m., "the Holy Father will preside at the concelebration of the Chrism Mass with cardinals, bishops, and diocesan and religious priests present in Rome, as a sign of the close union between the pastor of the universal Church and his brothers in the priestly ministry."
At 5:30 p.m. that same day a concelebration of the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper will begin in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, at which Benedict XVI will preside.
After the homily, the rite of the washing of the feet of 12 priests will take place.
"During this rite, those present will be invited to give alms for the victims of landslides in Maasin, Philippines," says the program from the Vatican.
"The sum collected will be given to the Holy Father at the presentation of the gifts. At the end of the celebration, the Blessed Sacrament will be transferred to the chapel of reposition," states the program.
On Good Friday, April 14, at 5 p.m., the Pope will preside at the celebration of the Lord's Passion in St. Peter's Basilica, as well as the Liturgy of the Word, the adoration of the cross, and the rite of Communion.
Way of the Cross
He will lead the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum at 9:15 p.m. At the end, he will address some words to the faithful and impart his apostolic blessing.
The name of this year's author of the meditations for the Way of the Cross was not immediately published. Last year, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger prepared the meditation's at John Paul II's request.
On Holy Saturday, April 15, the Easter Vigil Mass will begin at 10 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, when the Pope will bless the new fire in the atrium of the church.
After the entrance procession with the Easter candle and the singing of the "Exultet," Benedict XVI "will preside at the Liturgy of the Word and the baptismal and Eucharistic liturgies, which he will concelebrate with the cardinals."
At 10:30 a.m. on Easter Sunday, April 16, the Pope will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Square. At midday, he will impart the blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and the world) from the central balcony of the Vatican basilica. The ceremony will be broadcast live worldwide.