The Vatican has published Pope Francis’ calendar for Holy Week and Easter, which due to coronavirus restrictions, will be celebrated primarily in St Peter’s Basilica with a very small congregation.
While the pope is expected to preside over most of the liturgical celebrations, he is not expected to preside over the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on 1st April. According to Vatican News, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dean of the College of Cardinals, will celebrate the Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St Peter’s Basilica.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the pope had made it a tradition to celebrate the Mass and foot-washing ritual at a prison or detention centre, refugee centre or rehabilitation facility.
The Vatican did not give a reason for the pope’s absence, which – if he does not celebrate the liturgy elsewhere – would mark the first time he does not preside over the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
The Vatican also announced that the pope asked two troops of Italian scouts from Rome and Umbria to prepare the meditations for the Way of the Cross. Youngsters from two group homes for disadvantaged young people in Rome – “Mater Divini Amoris” and “Tetto Casal Fattoria” – have drawn the illustrations to accompany the prayer.
The young people’s “words and colours convey the complexity of a world made up of small and large crosses, but also of trust and hope for the future,” the Vatican said.
Here is the schedule of papal liturgical ceremonies for Holy Week according to Vatican News (times listed are local):
— 28th March, Palm Sunday, 10:30am, Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St Peter’s Basilica.
— 1st April, chrism Mass, 10am, in St Peter’s Basilica.
— 2nd April, Good Friday, 6pm, liturgy of the Lord’s passion in St Peter’s Basilica.
— 2nd April, Way of the Cross, 9pm, in front of St Peter’s Basilica.
— 3rd April, Easter vigil Mass, 7:30pm, St Peter’s Basilica.
— 4th April, Easter morning Mass, 10am, St Peter’s Basilica, followed at noon by the pope’s blessing “urbi et orbi” (the city and the world).
Picture: Pope Francis carries palm fronds in procession during Palm Sunday Mass in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in this file photo, dated 5th April 2020. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Holy Week and Easter services at the Vatican will again this year not be open to the general public. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).