Pope Benedict XVI will lead a full slate of Holy Week and Easter liturgies in Rome and at the Vatican, keeping pace with a usually busy papal schedule.
Publishing the pope's schedule Jan. 29, the Vatican said his Holy Week
activities will begin with a procession and Mass in St. Peter's Square
on Palm Sunday, March 24.
Pope Benedict will celebrate a morning chrism Mass in St. Peter's
Basilica on Holy Thursday and that evening will preside over the Mass of
the Lord's Supper in Rome's Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral
On Good Friday, he will celebrate the liturgy of the Lord's Passion in
St. Peter's Basilica in the late afternoon, and then will lead a
nighttime Way of the Cross at Rome's Colosseum.
As a way to recall his 2012 visit to Lebanon and invite the whole church
to pray for the Middle East -- its tensions and its beleaguered
Christian community -- the meditations read during the Way of the Cross
will be written by two young Lebanese. Each year, the pope asks a
different person to write the meditations, and this year he asked
Lebanon's Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai to choose the youths and guide
their preparation of the texts.
On Holy Saturday, the pope will preside over the Easter Vigil in St.
Peter's Basilica. On Easter, March 31, he will celebrate Mass in St.
Peter's Square and give his blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome
and the world).
The Vatican also released the pope's Lenten schedule. He will celebrate
Mass at Rome's Basilica of Santa Sabina on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13, and
begin his weeklong spiritual retreat Feb. 17.
Italian Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, will preach the papal retreat this year.
The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, said the cardinal will
focus on "Ars orandi, ars credendi" (the art of praying, the art of
believing), looking particularly at "the face of God and the face of man
in the Psalm prayers."
The pope's February schedule begins with a Mass Feb. 2 with men and
women religious in St. Peter's Basilica to mark the feast of the
Presentation of the Lord and World Day for Consecrated Life.
On Feb. 11, the pope will lead a brief "ordinary public consistory," a
formal ceremony opened and closed with prayer, during which cardinals
present in Rome will express their support for the pope's decision to
create several new saints.