Pope Francis presided the Adoration of the Cross ceremony at the Basilica of St Peter in The Vatican. The function was held in Latin but the homily delivered by Fr Raniero Cantalamessa was delivered in Italian in which he recounted the suffering of Jesus Christ in his endeavour to save humanity from evil.
He recounted various situations in which people have abandoned God and said that Christ offered the only hope as he was the one who had pioneered a relationship without which humanity would be slaves of disorder. He had strong words of criticism for those who ignore the needs of others and for those in power who ignore poverty and those facing exclusion.
Cardinals, bishops, priests and lay persons filed to kiss the Holy Cross after moments of silence when the congregation kneeled while the Pope held up the Cross. The tertiary part of the function was the Holy Communion with the Eucharist which was consecrated yesterday and distributed by Pope Francis.
Yesterday, during the Maundy Thursday Holy Mass, the Pope washed the feet of 12 prison inmates from the Velletri Prison in Italy. A room in this modern prison normally used as a theatre was transformed into a holy place to enable the Pope to carry out a Last Supper commemoration surrounded by prison inmates. The Pope’s message was the help that one should give to others.
The Velletri should only house 400 inmates but currently holds 600, the majority of which are foreigners. Included among those whose feet the Pope washed were a man from the Ivory Coast and another man from Morocco.
This is the fifth successive occasion that Pope Francis has washed the feet of prisoners, a gesture of humility to deliver the Christian message that the privileged and those in power should provide a service to others.