Pope Francis leads Easter Sunday Mass before large crowds in Vatican Square


Pope Francis opened a mass on Easter Sunday with dozens of prelates and tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square, where spring flowers lit up the vast space.

Orange-red tulips, yellow sprigs of forsythia and daffodils and other colorful seasonal flowers were transported in trucks from the Netherlands on Saturday and placed in planters to decorate Vatican Square, which quickly filled with Rome residents and Holy Week visitors to the city on Sunday.

According to Vatican security services, around 45,000 people had gathered by the time morning mass began.

At the beginning of the Easter ceremony, inspired by the core Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion, Francis sprinkled holy water and sounded a bit weary as he recited ritual words in Latin.

Vatican Pope Easter
Pope Francis gives the plenary blessing “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) from the central box of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican at the end of Mass on Easter Sunday, Sunday 9 April 2023.

Alessandra Tarantino/AP

A canopy at the edge of the steps in the square protected the Pope, who returned to public view 12 hours after a 2.25-hour Easter Vigil ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica the night before.

quiet recovering from bronchitisFrancis, 86, skipped the traditional Good Friday procession at Rome’s Colosseum due to unusually cold overnight temperatures.

Sunday was windy but the temperature rose quickly a day after rain and strong gusts of wind hit Rome.

At the end of the Mass, Francis was to deliver a speech that the popes give at Christmas and Easter. Known by its Latin name “Urbi et Orbi”, meaning “to the city and to the world”, the message is often used to denounce wars and injustices around the world, including religious persecution.

Francis has been generally recovering after a three-day stay in a hospital in Rome last week where he was given intravenous antibiotics for bronchitis. He was released on April 1st. Aside from eschewing the torchlit Stations of the Cross in the Colosseum, he maintained a busy schedule of Holy Week public appearances.

The last time a pope missed Holy Week events was in 2005, when the ailing Pope John Paul II watched in silence the ritual of the Way of the Cross on television from his apartment in the Apostolic Palace. He died eight days later.

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