VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will celebrate a full schedule this Holy Week, including washing the feet of youth detainees and leading the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum.
His six main events are: chrism Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on Holy Thursday morning, followed by Mass at a youth detention center that evening, a Communion service and Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, Easter vigil Mass on Saturday evening and Easter Mass on Sunday morning.
Pope Francis will celebrate the chrism Mass on March 28 with cardinals and other clergy from Rome at St. Peter’s Basilica. During the Mass, the Pope will consecrate the oils that will be used throughout the year for baptism, confirmation and anointing of the sick.
In keeping with his practice in Buenos Aires, he will celebrate Holy Thursday Mass at Casal del Marmo youth detention center, instead of the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
When he was the archbishop of Buenos Aires, then-Cardinal Bergoglio celebrated the Mass in a prison, a hospital or a hospice for the poor and marginalized people. This time around, he will be with youth offenders and will wash their feet.
On Good Friday, March 29, he will preside over a Communion service and the Veneration of the Cross in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5pm Rome time.
The Pope will then go to the Colosseum to lead the Stations of the Cross at 9:15pm. The prayers for the 14 stations were written by two Lebanese youths, with the help of Cardinal Bechara Rai, the patriarch of the Maronites of Antioch.
The Vatican chose the young Arabs to highlight the suffering of Christians in the Middle East and the growing urgency of their situation.
After the procession around the Colosseum, Pope Francis will give a speech to people gathered there and impart his apostolic blessing.
On Holy Saturday, the Pope will celebrate the first of two Easter Masses when he holds the Easter vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica. He will bless a fire in the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica and enter in a procession with the paschal candle, singing the Easter Proclamation.
The Pope will then concelebrate Mass at 8:30pm Rome time with the cardinals and impart the sacrament of baptism, which is traditionally done in churches worldwide at this time of year.
On Sunday at 10:15am, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at St. Peter’s Square, which will finish with his Urbi et Orbi (to the city of Rome and to the world) greeting and blessing from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. Urbi et Orbi is a special blessing the Pope gives every Easter and Christmas. He usually offers a message beforehand and then proceeds to announce the blessing in more than 50 languages, but it remains to be seen if Pope Francis will follow suit. The blessing includes the remission of all temporal punishment due to sin through a plenary indulgence attached to the papal blessing, under the usual conditions.