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

File Photo
Nominations for Sylvan Lake municipal election now open

Those looking to run for mayor or council can fill out and submit nomination forms now

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta passes bill to give all workers paid leave to get COVID-19 vaccine shot

Labour Minister Jason Copping says Bill 71 will reduce barriers for Alberta workers to get vaccinated

Alberta completed 18,412 COVID-19 tests, as reported on Wednesday, for a test positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Highest daily count of 2021 so far: Alberta reports 1,699 COVID-19 cases

Variants now make up 59 per cent of Alberta’s active cases

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

(File photo)
Sylvan Lake RCMP investigate graffiti at local school

The graffiti was racially and culturally insensitive, RCMP say

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange was in Red Deer on Friday to provide an update on the province's COVID-19 response in schools.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Alberta government aiming to boost financial literacy among students

Government providing grants to organizations who will help design financial literacy programming

President Joe Biden holds a virtual bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
U.S. to help Canada with more COVID-19 vaccine supply, Biden says

The U.S. has already provided Canada with about 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

The Rogers logo is photographed in Toronto on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Rogers investigating after wireless customers complain of widespread outage

According to Down Detector, problems are being reported in most major Canadian cities

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Most Read