April 9, 2020
In Rome, Pope Francis begins the celebrations of Holy and Easter days with the Holy Thursday mass in the evening. According to Kathpress, the commemoration of Jesus’ Last Supper takes place in the empty St. Peter’s Basilica and without washing his feet and is broadcast on the Internet and on television channels.
For all Catholic worship services worldwide in areas affected by the corona pandemic, the Vatican has banned public liturgies in churches to protect against infection.
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The traditional washing of the feet is no longer part of this year’s communion with Francis. The rite, in which the Pope washes and kisses twelve people, is reminiscent of a gesture by Jesus at the Last Supper and is intended to be a sign of love and solidarity. In recent years, Francis celebrated Maundy Thursday mass in prisons or social institutions. He washed the feet of criminals, Muslim migrants and the disabled.
This year the papal celebration will be moved to the west arm of St. Peter’s Basilica. According to the pre-published texts of the service, Francis particularly prays for the healing of the sick, for decisions of the rulers oriented towards the common good and for the liberation of everyone from epidemics, violence and selfishness.
The Pope decided not to have his own church service for the ordination of holy oils on Holy Thursday morning. Normally all clergymen of the diocese of Rome are invited to St. Peter’s Basilica for this so-called Chrisam Mass. According to the diocese of Rome, the consecration of the oils used in various sacraments and ordinances will be carried out at a later date and without the Pope.
All of the papal ceremonies of the Holy and Easter days take place this year mainly in St. Peter’s Basilica and without the local participation of an otherwise usual large crowd of believers. Even the Pope’s Way of the Cross on Good Friday evening (9 p.m.), which tens of thousands of believers celebrate in normal years, does not take place at the Colosseum as usual, but in a modified form on St. Peter’s Square.
According to the Vatican, the procession to the meditations on the 14 stages of the Passion of Jesus will be held by two groups of five people from the Due Palazzi detention center in Padua and from the Vatican health authority. Before that, the celebration of the suffering and death of Christ (Good Friday liturgy) takes place in St. Peter on Good Friday at 6 p.m.
The program of the Easter night celebration with the Pope on Saturday from 9 p.m. will also be reduced. The blessing of the fire on which the Easter candle is lit takes place at the fourth altar in the middle of St. Peter’s Basilica. This is followed by a procession in the western cross arm of the basilica. Passing on the Easter light to believers is eliminated. Unlike in previous years, adult baptisms do not take place.
On Easter Sunday, the Pope once again celebrates Mass in the west arm of St. Peter’s Basilica instead of the usual place on St. Peter’s Square. The service also takes place relatively late compared to previous years, namely only at 11 a.m. This year, Francis announces his Easter message following Sunday mass before the so-called Confessio, which leads to the Petrusgrab. Then he gives the blessing “Urbi et orbi”, “the city and the earth”.