Pope Offers Spontaneous Meditation at End of Stations of the Cross

At Colosseum, He Appeals for Prayers for Peace in Jerusalem

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 30, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II on Good Friday carried the cross during the last station of the Way of the Cross at Rome´s Colosseum, and then offered pilgrims a spontaneous meditation.



Because of an arthritic right knee, he sat for most of the Stations of the Cross, keeping watch from the Palatine Hill.

"Tomorrow, Holy Saturday, is a day of silence, of mysterious expectation," the Pope told the 30,000 pilgrims on hand. "On Sunday morning, the one who was crucified and buried will come out of the tomb."

"And we await him, that Sunday morning, as the conqueror of death, as Savior of the world," he added.

"May the Lord inspire a profound silence and hope in us to arrive at that moment, when the women find the tomb empty and hear: ´He is not here, he is risen,´" the Pope concluded.

Before beginning the Way of the Cross, or Via Crucis, the Holy Father appealed to pilgrims to pray for peace in the Holy Land. "Peace for those who are near and those who are far away. Peace to you, Jerusalem, beloved city of the Lord," he said.

The meditations for the Stations, which recall the final stages of Jesus´ suffering and his death and burial, were written by 14 journalists, Vatican correspondents of various newspapers and television stations. The meditations were at once direct and profound.

"In these days of unheard-of violence and brutal opposition between men, give us a ray of your peace and serenity," Russian journalist Alexej Bukalov exclaimed in the second Station.

Itar-Tass agency´s correspondent added in his prayer: "Give us sentiments of peace and forgiveness, because there is no peace without forgiveness, there is no forgiveness without compassion."

John M. Thavis, an American correspondent for Catholic News Service, who wrote the first Station, told ZENIT: "It was not about writing texts of current importance, but of going deeply into a spiritual meditation with our language. We have not talked about war, but we have perceived Jesus´ suffering as something present."