Holy Week was a whirlwind here in Rome. The pilgrims who filled the streets and churches over the holy days added to the craziness of preparing for an Easter-Week trip to Sicily. Here are a few highlights from the Triduum:
A couple friends and I got tickets for the Chrism Mass at St. Peter’s. This ceremony held on Holy Thursday morning was quite beautiful. The large urns containing the sacred oils were processed down the middle aisle of the basilica before and after being blessed by the Holy Father.
I visited some of the sacred places associated with the Passion here in Rome. I first went to see the Holy Steps, located across the street from St. John Lateran. These steps were brought to Rome by St. Helen and are said to be the same steps that Jesus ascended when judged by Pontius Pilate. The tradition now in Rome is to ascend the stairs on one’s knees while meditating on Christ’s Passion.
After visiting the Holy Stairs, I paid a visit to the basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, situated a few blocks away and which houses instruments and other relics of the Passion.
In the afternoon, I walked to Mary Major and caught the end of the meditations on the Seven Last Words of Christ, after which I returned to John Lateran for the memorial of the Passion. Three young deacons beautifully chanted the gospel in Italian. After the service, I hiked to the Coliseum for Stations of the Cross with the Holy Father. Atop a small hill outside to Coliseum, a flaming cross was set up near a canopy from which the Pope led the prayers.
After the full day on Friday, Saturday was spent quietly. After supper at the Academy, which featured a traditional Italian dish of beans and cheese, a large group from the Academy attended the Easter Vigil at one of the seminaries in Rome. The wide variety of languages used and the nations there represented reminded us of the universality of the Church.