The Pope, who followed the 14 stations seated, delivered a brief address at the end to relive "the hour of the heart-rending suffering of the Son of God, a suffering that, 20 centuries later, continues to overwhelm and question us profoundly."
"This is the hour in which we, men and women of all times, have been given the love that is stronger than death," said the Holy Father, who was showing signs of fatigue accumulated over the long liturgical celebrations of the previous 36 hours.
The cross was carried by witnesses of human suffering on various continents, including a young woman from Madrid, Spain, a Franciscan from the Holy Land, and a nun from Burundi.
In addition to the thousands of faithful who took part in the Stations of the Cross, millions more in 42 countries followed the event which was broadcast by 64 national and international TV channels.
The meditations were a commentary on the most significant moments of Christ's passion and death. They were written for the occasion by Belgian Father André Louf, a Trappist monk, who lives as a hermit in the south of France.
Describing the sufferings of Christ, the Belgian monk wrote: "Disfigured by pain, marked by abuse, the face of this man speaks to man of another justice."
"Defeated, ridiculed, defamed, this condemned man gives back dignity to all men: Love can lead to so much, from so much love the ransom of every pain," the hermit added.
John Paul II was scheduled to preside at the Easter Vigil tonight in St. Peter's Basilica. He is also scheduled to celebrate the Mass of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, and to impart his blessing to the city of Rome and the world.