Calling Easter Sunday “the most important and beautiful day in history,” Pope Francis addressed an audience of some 100,000 people after presiding at Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on April 9.
“May the Church and the world rejoice, because today our hopes no longer crash against the wall of death, because the Lord has built us a bridge to life”, Francis said in his annual Easter message, the most sacred occasion of the Christian calendar. Easter marks what the faithful believe to be the resurrection of Jesus from the dead after his crucifixion on Good Friday.
Some 300 priests, 15 bishops and 31 cardinals also attended the occasion in a lush atmosphere thanks to more than 35,000 flowers and plants brought from the Netherlands, according he National Catholic Registry.
Francisco called for peace and prayed for the people all over the planet suffering from wars, conflicts or natural disasters, from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Syria and Jerusalem to Lebanon, Haiti, Nicaragua and Burma (Myanmar).
The Pope, who returned to the Vatican on April 1 after spending three days in a Rome hospital for treatment of bronchitis, did not celebrate Mass at the altar due to difficulty walking and standing. Instead, his usual place was taken by Cardinal Battista Re.
Before observing Mass, Francis offered the traditional blessing “Urbi et Orbi” to the faithful gathered in the celebration. Translated from the Latin as “To the city (of Rome) and to the world,” the pope gives the apostolic blessing every Easter Sunday, Christmas, and on other important occasions in the Christian calendar.
“May this Easter be for each of you, dear brothers and sisters, and in particular for the sick and the poor, the elderly and those who are going through moments of trial and weariness, a step from grief to consolation,” the Pope said. .
“We are not alone: Jesus, the Living One, is with us, forever. May the Church and the world rejoice, because today our hopes no longer crash against the wall of death, because the Lord has built us a bridge to life.”