What Is Pope Francis Doing for Holy Week 2017?

A look at solemn celebrations in Rome leading up to Easter joy.

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in St. Peter's Square on March 27, 2016.
Pope Francis celebrates Mass in St. Peter's Square on March 27, 2016. (photo: L'Osservatore Romano)

The lead-up to Holy Week will be filled with several papal day trips, Masses and liturgies.

Pope Francis will celebrate Mass for Palm Sunday at 10am in St. Peter’s Square April 9, during which he will process with palms from the obelisk in the middle of the square to the main altar, as is tradition.

During the Mass, the “World Youth Day Cross” will be handed over from Poland to Panama, signaling the location of the next international encounter in 2019.

As is customary, the Pope will also deliver his message for World Youth Day at a local level, which this year holds the theme “The Mighty One Has Done Great Things for Me, and Holy Is His Name,” taken from Luke 1:49.

On April 13, Pope Francis will offer the annual chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at 9:30am, which will be concelebrated with the cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops, bishops and priests present in Rome.

Then, in the afternoon, he will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper with the traditional washing of feet. The location of this year’s Holy Thursday liturgy has yet to be announced, as of press time, but Francis has typically chosen to hold it either in prisons or centers for the sick and disabled. Last year, the celebration was held at a refugee welcoming center on the outskirts of Rome.

On Good Friday, the Pope will preside over an afternoon liturgy commemorating the Passion of the Lord in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5pm, with the papal preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, delivering the homily, as usual.

Later that night, he will make his way to the Colosseum to pray the Via Crucis with the faithful at 9:15pm, extending his blessing to all present. 

The following night, Holy Saturday, Francis will celebrate the Easter vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica at 8:30pm. In previous years, he has baptized and confirmed several individuals during the celebration, and he is expected to do so again this year.

On April 16, Easter Sunday, the Pope will hold a public Mass in St. Peter’s Square at 10am. Immediately after, he will give his special blessing urbi et orbi, which extends “to the city and to the world.”

The Pope kicked Lent off with his March 5-10 spiritual exercises alongside members of the Curia in Ariccia, a small town just outside of Rome.

On St. Patrick’s Day, he celebrated a penitential service in St. Peter’s Basilica as part of his annual “24 Hours for the Lord” event, taking place the third Friday and Saturday of Lent.

A worldwide initiative led by Pope Francis, the event was launched in 2014 under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization and points to confession as a primary way to experience God’s mercy.

During the service, Pope Francis went to confession himself, before administering the sacrament to a number of individuals.

On March 25, the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord, Francis made a pastoral visit to Milan, where he celebrated an outdoor Mass, met with youth who recently received the sacrament of confirmation and visited the city’s cathedral, St. Mary of the Nativity, and a prison.

After his visit to Milan, the Pope was to start the month of April by making a visit to the northern Italian town of Carpi on the second, to commemorate the nearly 20 people who died when an earthquake struck the region in 2012.