Pope to Preside Over All Holy Week Services

Schedule Includes Way of the Cross at Colosseum

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 30, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II plans to preside over all the Holy Week services, including the Easter Vigil celebration and the Easter Sunday Mass.



According to the program published today by the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, the services will begin on Palm Sunday this weekend, with the diocesan-level observance of the 19th World Youth Day.

At 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, the Pope will bless the palms and olive branches and, at the end of the procession, will celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Passion.

On Holy Thursday, April 8, at 9:30 a.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, the Holy Father will preside at the concelebration of the Chrism Mass with cardinals, bishops, and diocesan and religious priests present in Rome.

This celebration will be "a sign of the close union between the pastor of the universal Church and his brothers in the priestly ministry," said Archbishop Piero Marini, master of pontifical liturgical celebrations, in the announcement note.

The Easter triduum of the Lord's passion and resurrection begins in St. Peter's Basilica at 5:30 p.m. with the Mass of Our Lord's Last Supper.

The Pope will preside at the concelebration of the Mass. 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 sick children in Rwanda and Burundi. 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.

On Good Friday, April 9, the Holy Father will preside at the commemoration of the Passion of Our Lord in St. Peter's Basilica at 5 p.m.

He will lead the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum at 9:15 p.m. and, at the end, speak to the faithful and impart his apostolic blessing.

This year, the meditations have been entrusted to Father André Louf of Belgian, a Trappist who spent 35 years as abbot of the Monastery of Notre Dame de Mont-des-Cats in France. Now retired, he lives in a hermitage in the south of France.

On Holy Saturday, April 10, the Easter Vigil will begin at 7 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, John Paul II will preside at the Liturgy of the Word and the baptismal and Eucharistic liturgies, which he will concelebrate with cardinals.

On Easter Sunday, April 11, at 10:30 a.m., the Holy Father will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Square, after which he will impart his blessing "urbi et orbi" -- to the city of Rome and the world -- which will be broadcast live worldwide.