VATICAN CITY, MARCH 15, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II is poised to lead a marathon of Holy Week ceremonies, a clear sign he is recovering from an arthritic knee.
Bishop Piero Marini, master of papal liturgical celebrations, published a statement Thursday confirming that the Pope will preside over the great ceremonies of the Holy Triduum, including the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum on Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil.
During the past two weeks, the Pope canceled two visits to Roman parishes as well as his appearance at a Wednesday general audience because of a bout of painful arthrosis in his right knee. Since last Saturday, however, he has been presiding over some public meetings.
During Holy Week, the Pope will preside over Palm Sunday Mass, which will be preceded by a procession through St. Peter´s Square, with pilgrims carrying olive branches.
Dioceses worldwide that day will celebrate the 17th Youth Day with the motto: “You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world.”
In connection with the Youth Day, the Bishop of Rome will meet March 21 with tens of thousands of boys and girls of his diocese in St. Peter´s Square. They will be joined by a youth delegation from Toronto, site of the upcoming World Youth Day.
On Holy Thursday, March 28, the Pontiff will preside over the concelebrated Chrism Mass in the morning, with the participation of all priests present in Rome. It is a sign of communion between the pastor of the universal Church and his brothers in the ministerial priesthood.
The Paschal Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord´s Supper at 5:30 p.m. in St. Peter´s Basilica. In other years this Mass was celebrated in the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
The Holy Father will wash the feet of 12 priests at the Mass, re-enacting Jesus´ gesture at his last supper.
At 5 p.m. on Good Friday, the Pope will preside over the Liturgy of the Word, the Adoration of the Cross, and the Communion Rite. At 9:15 p.m. he will lead the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum. The evening will end with a papal address.
The Vatican´s published program did not state whether John Paul II would hear confessions in St. Peter´s Basilica on Good Friday morning, his custom.
The Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday will begin in the atrium of St. Peter´s Basilica at 8 p.m. with the blessing of the fire that will light the Easter candle. The Holy Father will preside over the Liturgy of the Word, the Baptismal Liturgy, and the Eucharistic Liturgy, which he will concelebrate with the cardinals present.
As in past years, the Pope will not celebrate the Mass for pilgrims on Easter Sunday, but at midday will impart the blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city of Rome and the world), after delivering his Easter message and greetings in dozens of languages.
The most important ceremonies, especially those of the Holy Triduum, will be televised worldwide.