Pope Francis presides over the Via Crucis, in an almost empty St. Peter’s Square: a moving symbol of the loneliness and isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic imbued with the hope provided by the reflections prepared by the children.
By Linda Bordoni
The loneliness and isolation of men and women around the world, separated from their families and friends, deprived of their work and livelihood, living in fear of an uncertain future for themselves and their children, were moving during the “Camino de Cruz ”on the second day of the 2021 Easter Triduum.
For the second year in a row, Pope Francis led the traditional Good Friday Stations of the Cross in a nearly empty St. Peter’s Square due to restrictions imposed by the Italian government to slow the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A solitary figure dressed in white, seated in the center of a naked stage arranged in front of the Basilica, the Holy Father looked towards the dark square where few children, accompanied by their parents, catechists and teachers, took turns leading the crossing around of the obelisk.
One after another, they read his reflections as his companions carried the Cross along a circular path marked by torches lit on the ground in the center of the Plaza.
The Pope, in fact, this year has chosen to entrust to children and young people, symbols of hope and the future, the preparation of the meditations by 2021 Way of the Cross.
The tradition of the Via Crucis
For more than 50 years, since Pope Paul VI revived the ancient tradition of the “Via Crucis” in 1964, the Popes have led this powerful rite that recreates the passion and death of Jesus Christ in the context of the Colosseum in Rome. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, restrictions imposed to curb infections have affected all public events, including this one. However, it is broadcast and broadcast to a global audience of hundreds of millions on all continents through the Vatican media.
Each station began with a reading of the relevant passage from the Gospel account of the passion, followed by a meditation. This was followed by the reading of a prayer by the Pope and the singing of a hymn.
No need for words
Pope Francis, it was clear, felt no need for words and did not deliver a homily.
Silence and the contemplation of the crucifix were the most powerful means of communication in a silenced world in which the virus continues to bring pain and loneliness, and where marginalization, unemployment, poverty, injustice and the “virus” of indifference they continue to sow death and despair. .
Children: hope for the future
During the fourteenth and last season, it was highlighted how children and young people have the key and the hope of rebirth: “Lord, merciful Father”, said the prayer, “once again this year we have followed your Son Jesus on the way of the Cross. . We continue to listen to the voices and prayers of the children that you yourself put before us as a model to enter your kingdom ”.
Help us to be like them: small, in need of everything, open to life. May we regain our purity of heart and our ability to see things clearly.
We ask that you bless and protect all the children of our world. May all children grow in wisdom, age, and grace, and thus come to know and follow his special plan for their happiness.
The words were clearly redundant for Pope Francis tonight: a lone prophet dressed in white in the center of a vast and dark stage, the Pope granted his Apostolic Blessing, thanked the children for their reflections and slowly made his way, on foot, back to the Basilica.
Images of the Via Crucis of 2021 in St. Peter’s Square led by Pope Francis