The Pope’s schedule for Holy Week was released by the Holy See on March 22. One unusual addition to the calendar is a special collection on Holy Thursday for the formation of priests in Haiti.
Beginning the solemn week, on Palm Sunday the Holy Father will be in St. Peter’s Square at 9:30 a.m. to bless palms and olive branches during the procession. He will later presiding over the Mass of the Passion of the Lord.
Chrism Mass will be concelebrated on the morning of Holy Thursday in the Vatican Basilica by the Pope and cardinals, bishops and diocesan and religious priests present in Rome. The Vatican statement announcing the details describes this great concelebration as a “sign of the close communion between the Pastor of the Universal Church and his brothers in the priestly ministry.”
Beginning the Paschal Triduum on Thursday evening, the Holy Father will preside over the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Roman Basilica of St. John Lateran at 5:30 p.m. During this celebration, the Pope will wash the feet of 12 priests.
The destination of this year’s collection at the Mass is to help with the reconstruction of the seminary in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which had all but one of its buildings destroyed. Collections will be given to the Holy Father at the presentation of the gifts.
Upon the conclusion of the Mass, the Blessed Sacrament will be brought in procession to the Chapel of Reposition.
The Church recognizes the Paschal Triduum of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection as “the high-point of the whole liturgical year.” The Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, reaches its culmination at the Easter Vigil and concludes with Easter Sunday’s Vespers.
On Good Friday, Benedict XVI will preside over the Liturgy of the Word, Veneration of the Cross and the Rite of Communion at 5 p.m. at the Vatican Basilica. Later, just after 9 p.m., he will lead the “Way of the Cross” from the Colosseum followed by an address to the faithful and granting of the Apostolic Blessing.
The Easter Vigil will also be celebrated at St. Peter’s, and will begin on Saturday, April 3 at 9 p.m. The Holy Father will bless the new fire in the basilica’s atrium. Following the entrance procession with the Paschal Candle and the singing of the Exsultet, he will preside at the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of Baptism and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Cardinals will also take part as concelebrants.
Easter Day Mass will be celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI from an altar on the “Sagrato,” the platform on the stairs leading to the entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica, at 10:15 a.m. After Mass, from the central “loggia,” above the basilica entryway, the Holy Father will impart his Blessing “Urbi et Orbi.”