Rome, Apr 15 (EFE).- The return of Pope Francis to the Colosseum for the Good Friday procession after two years when the event was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic took place against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Amid criticism from Kyiv for the Vatican’s decision to have a Ukrainian nurse and a Russian nursing student who work together at a Rome hospital bear the cross together at one of the stations, some portions of the original program were omitted.
But the Holy See went forward with keeping the two women, who are friends as well as colleagues, in the torch-lit procession.
In deference to his ailing knee, the 85-year-old Argentine pontiff remained standing rather than kneel as he prayed in front of the tomb of the apostle in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Francis viewed the Stations of the Cross from a canopy before uttering a final prayer in which he asked God to “turn our rebellious hearts to your own heart, so that we may learn to pursue plans of peace, inspire adversaries to shake hands and taste mutual forgiveness.”
“Disarm the hand of brother raised against brother, so that where there is hatred, concord may flourish,” the pope said.
At the 13th Station of the Cross, Irina, who is from Ukraine, and her Russian friend, Albina, bore the crucifix together as a narrator recited a meditation.
“In the face of death, silence is the most eloquent of words,” the narrator said, inviting the 10,000 people present to take a moment and “pray for peace in the world.” EFE gsm/dr