The thousands gathered at the ancient Roman landmark cheered as the Pope appeared on video screens. He was seen sitting alone in his chapel at the Vatican with his back to the camera, watching the ceremony on a nearby television screen.

John Paul sent a message to the crowd that was read by his vicar for Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini. In it, the Holy Father said he was spiritually among those at the Colosseum recalling Jesus' last hours.

ZENIT on Thursday posted the text of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's meditations for the Stations of the Cross.