Skip to main content

Pope Francis leads Good Friday services

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 9:22 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pope Francis leads the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum in Rome
  • Earlier, he celebrated Good Friday Mass at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican
  • Good Friday, which recalls the day Jesus died on the cross, is a solemn day for believers

(CNN) -- Thousands of Christians gathered at one of Rome's most famous landmarks Friday night as Pope Francis led the Catholic ceremony known as the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum. Crowds of the faithful stood in solemn attendance, holding candles that cast a soft yellow glow over the ancient Roman site, as a giant cross made of dozens of flickering candles towered over the audience.

The Stations of the Cross, also known as the Way of the Cross, commemorates the passion and death of Jesus.

Earlier, the Pope led a service at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, also to mark Good Friday, the most solemn day of the Christian calendar.

Roman Catholics worldwide use the day to reflect on the Gospel account of the day Jesus died on the cross, before his resurrection from the dead three days later on Easter Sunday, according to Christian doctrine.

Women in traditional costumes are sprayed with water by men as members of the Marghareta Dance Group perform Easter folk traditions of the region in the Museum Village in Nyiregyhaza, northeast of Budapest, Hungary, on Monday, April 21. Click through the gallery to see how Christians around the world are observing Holy Week, which marks the last week of Lent and the beginning of Easter celebrations. Women in traditional costumes are sprayed with water by men as members of the Marghareta Dance Group perform Easter folk traditions of the region in the Museum Village in Nyiregyhaza, northeast of Budapest, Hungary, on Monday, April 21. Click through the gallery to see how Christians around the world are observing Holy Week, which marks the last week of Lent and the beginning of Easter celebrations.
Holy Week around the world
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Holy Week around the world Photos: Holy Week around the world
Pope condemns clergy who sexually abused

Holy Week, one of the most significant periods of the Roman Catholic year, will culminate on Easter Sunday with a Mass in St. Peter's Square, led by Pope Francis.

On Holy Thursday, Pope Francis visited a home for the elderly and disabled, the Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi, to wash the feet of "12 disabled people of different ages, ethnicities and religious confessions," during a special Lord's Supper Mass, according to the Vatican.

It was the second time he has broken with Vatican tradition and washed the feet of ordinary people rather than priests.

Last year, he washed the feet of two women and two Muslims at a juvenile detention center in Rome. Before this, modern popes only washed the feet of 12 priests at the Vatican, during the Mass of the Last Supper.

At his general audience Wednesday, Francis urged the faithful to seek an example in Jesus.

"This week, as we follow Jesus along the way of the cross, may we imitate his loving obedience to the will of the father, especially in times of difficulty and humiliation, and open our hearts to his gifts of reconciliation, redemption and new life," he said.

READ: Pope Francis washes the feet of disabled people as part of Easter celebrations

READ: How to really measure the 'Francis effect'

CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman and Delia Gallagher contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 1:20 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
The beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley by ISIS militants brings into focus the risks faced by reporters in conflict zones.
updated 8:24 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
About $35,000 was taken from the bank accounts of four passengers on board Flight 370.
updated 9:53 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Five survivors of acid attacks capture India's attention with a "ground breaking" photo shoot.
updated 1:32 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
The execution of a journalist by a British-accented jihadist is a direct challenge to the international community. It's time for the U.S. to move, writes Frida Ghitis.
updated 8:19 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
In an exclusive CNN interview, Lance Armstrong admits to having a "f**k you" attitude.
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Summer isn't over yet. These new hotels are keeping it alive and fresh.
updated 11:35 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
You've seen her turn on the catwalk, but her income might make your head spin.
updated 8:36 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
The pain that Michael Brown's parents are going through is something Sybrina Fulton can relate to. She, too, lost a son in a controversial shooting.
updated 5:04 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
19-year-old Udi Segal explains why he won't join the country's military.
Drinkers guzzled an incredible 10.3 billion liters of this brand in 2013, making it the world's No.1 beer. And you may have never heard of it.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT