Pope Scheduled to Impart Blessing on Easter

6 Cardinals to Preside in His Name at Holy Week Celebrations

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 8, 2005 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II, still hospitalized following his tracheotomy, is expected to impart his traditional blessing at the Vatican on Easter Sunday, the Holy See announced.

Still unknown is which liturgical ceremonies the Pope will participate in during Holy Week. The Holy Father, 84, has been recovering from his operation at the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome.

Six cardinals will preside over liturgical celebrations that week on behalf of the Pope, according to an announcement today by the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

On Monday, Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls announced that the Holy Father will decide on his participation in Holy Week ceremonies once he leaves the hospital.

According to the liturgical calendar, the Pope might also preside at Good Friday’s Stations of the Cross in the Colosseum. No one has been assigned yet to preside over the ceremony.

Otherwise, the celebrations planned for this Holy Week will follow the schedule of recent years.

According to the program, on March 20, Palm Sunday, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope’s vicar for Rome, will bless the palms and olive branches and, at the end of the procession, celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Passion.

The Chrism Mass and the blessing of the holy oils on Holy Thursday morning, March 24, will be presided over by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

The Mass of the Lord’s Last Supper will take place in the afternoon in St. Peter’s Basilica, presided over by Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

On Good Friday, March 25, Cardinal James Stafford, major penitentiary of the Church, will preside at the celebration of the Passion of Our Lord in St. Peter’s Basilica. Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Pontifical Household, will preach the homily.

The Stations of the Cross will begin at 9:15 p.m. at the Colosseum. This year, the meditations of the 14 traditional stations will be written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The Easter Vigil on Saturday will begin early, at 8 p.m., in St. Peter’s Basilica, presided over by Cardinal Ratzinger and concelebrated by cardinals present in Rome.

At 10:30 a.m. on Easter, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Square. At midday, John Paul II is expected to impart the traditional blessing «urbi et orbi» (to the city of Rome and the world).

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