Concerns about the pontiff's health in the run-up to the event

Despite poor health: Pope celebrates Easter Vigil in St Peter's Basilica

Vatican City - Although the Vatican had announced the Pope's presence, there were concerns as to whether Francis would actually come, as he had cancelled his participation in the Way of the Cross at very short notice the day before. Now Francis was back, but there was still someone else at the altar.

Published  on 31.03.2024 at 09:31  – by Anita Hirschbeck (KNA)

At the solemn Easter Vigil in St Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis recalled the hope of the resurrection. The 87-year-old read the sermon himself despite his current health difficulties. He celebrated the vigil sitting down; he also recited the prayers sitting down and with a firm voice - as well as the sermon. He also baptised eight adults from four countries during the service. On Good Friday, the 87-year-old had cancelled his participation in the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum in Rome at short notice due to his failing health. He has been suffering from a respiratory infection for more than a month.

The Pope's sermon on Saturday evening was about the women who, according to the Bible, go to Jesus' tomb after his death, which was supposed to be sealed by a large stone. When they arrive, however, they realise that the stone has been rolled aside - and Jesus has risen from the dead.

Jesus' resurrection as an example for life

St Francis drew a connection to the present: "Sometimes we have the feeling that a tombstone has been rolled in front of the entrance to our heart, suffocating life, extinguishing confidence, imprisoning us in the tomb of fears and bitterness and blocking our path to joy and hope." Then we must look to Jesus. "After accepting our humanity, he descended into the abyss of death and crossed it in the power of his divine life, opening an immeasurable gap of light for each one of us." Because of Jesus' resurrection, "no experience of failure and pain, no matter how much it hurts us, can have the last word on the meaning and destiny of our lives if we allow Jesus to take us by the hand".

During the Easter Vigil, the Church commemorates the resurrection of Jesus three days after his death on the cross. Around 6,000 people joined in the service in St Peter's Basilica. The priest Massimiliano Boiardi, a member of the papal ceremonial office, celebrated at the altar.

by Anita Hirschbeck (KNA)