Children’s reflections of regret or other emotional moments of their life were read aloud, alternately, by a boy and a girl, as Pope Francis listened. (Angelo Carconi/Pool photo via AP)

Children’s reflections of regret or other emotional moments of their life were read aloud, alternately, by a boy and a girl, as Pope Francis listened. (Angelo Carconi/Pool photo via AP)

Pope on Good Friday hears children tell of pandemic losses

Francis prayed that God would give people his hope so ‘we will be able to recognize you even in the darkest moments of our life’

Pope Francis prayed that people don’t feel lost amid the problems of the pandemic as he listened to children’s poignant accounts of sorrow and loneliness, which provided the motif for an unusual Way of the Cross torch-lit Good Friday procession in St. Peter’s Square.

Sitting under a canopy erected over a platform outside St. Peter’s Basilica on a warm evening, Francis presided over the procession, which, for a second year due to pandemic concerns, couldn’t be held at its traditional venue, Rome’s Colosseum. The appointment at the ancient arena normally draws thousands of pilgrims, tourists and Romans. But pandemic safety measures have seen tourism practically vanish from Italy.

Instead, candles were placed in a circle around the square’s central obelisk. The flames, moving in a breeze, cast golden reflections on the dark gray cobblestones of the square. A nun helped a young boy carry a tall, lightweight slender cross at the start of the procession.

Children’s reflections of regret or other emotional moments of their life were read aloud, alternately, by a boy and a girl, as the pope listened.

One child wrote plaintively of loneliness in the COVID-19 pandemic, from not being able to visit her grandparents to keep them safe from contagion and from missing volleyball teammates, school chums and teachers since schools in Italy have been closed for long stretches due to lockdown.

“The sadness of loneliness at times becomes unbearable,” the girl wrote.

After that child’s account was read, Francis rose and prayed that the Lord would “enlighten us in this dark night, so we don’t lose our way in this difficult period.”

The individual authors of the meditations were not identified by the Vatican. But they were penned by scouts from Umbria and children from a Roman Catholic parish in Rome, the Vatican said.

Also read was a child’s account of losing a grandparent. “From the ambulance, men got out who looked like astronauts, covered in protective gowns, gloves, masks and visors. They took away Grandpa, who for some days was struggling to breathe. It was the last time I saw Grandpa,” the child wrote, adding that “I imagine (him) suffering also due to loneliness.”

At another point in the ceremony, Francis prayed that God would give people his hope so “we will be able to recognize you even in the darkest moments of our life.”

The ceremony, which recalls Jesus’ suffering in the hours before his crucifix and death on a cross, ended with the pope’s blessing. Then a small boy wandered onto the platform where Francis was standing, and the pope leaned over to greet him. A few more children scampered up onto the platform to give Francis hugs.

At the ceremony’s completion, the pope was limping badly as he made his way toward the basilica. Francis has been suffering from a bad bout of sciatica, a nerve inflammation that causes back or leg pain.

Pope Francis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
Dr. Wayne John Edwards, 66, died Tuesday at Chinook Regional Hospital. (Cornerstone Funeral Home)
Lethbridge doctor becomes 7th Alberta health-care worker to die from COVID-19

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, who was 66, died Tuesday at the Chinook Regional Hospital in the southern Alberta city

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

A empty classroom is pictured at Eric Hamber Secondary school in Vancouver, B.C. Monday, March 23, 2020. The Alberta government says schools in Calgary will move to at-home learning starting Monday for students in grades 7 to 12.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary schools to shift to at-home learning for grades 7 to 12 due to COVID-19

The change, due to COVID-19, is to last for two weeks

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

Most Read