.- An audience of half a billion tuned in to watch the performance that involved around 80 performers and was played out by young people at six major venues around Sydney. Over 270,000 international and local spectators also made their way to points around the city to watch the Stations of the Cross live and on big screen televisions.
The first station held on the steps of St Maryâs Cathedral was attended by Pope Benedict XVI who led the prayer.
âMake us generous and insightful as we try to walk in your footsteps,â the Holy Father prayed.
The Pope then watched the procession on television from St. Maryâs Cathedral Crypt.
The procession moved through the Domain, a large open space in Sydney; the Art Gallery of NSW; and the Sydney Opera House, where the actor playing Jesus, Alfio Stuto 27, received the crown of thorns. At Darling Harbour, the stations were played out on a wharf built across the small bay specifically for the purpose before travelling by ferry to Barangaroo.
A somber and reverent mood permeated the crowds, previously filled with cheering and chanting.
âIt is truly a different mood here. Sydney has taken on a somber, more reflective mood,â said Fr Mark Podesta WYD08 spokesman, âThe pilgrims are recognizing the gravity of the passion of the Christ.â
Camillus Okane, a 21-year-old university student, was chosen to do play the role of Thomas.
âIt was a touching experience, in a special way to see the reactions of the people, some of them were crying, others were praying. It made an impact,â he said.
The director of the Stations of the Cross, Fr Franco Cavarra, has been preparing this presentation since December when a group of young people were chosen to play the roles.
Over 90 wardrobes were created for twenty people, three months prior to the presentation.
The dramatic highlight was the crucifixion of Jesus in a 3.5 meter (11.48 ft.) cross, upon the elevated stage at Barangaroo.
The performance concluded when Jesusâ body was carried from the cross and through the crowd watching at Barangaroo.
âIt was a fairly realistic representation of what actually happened,â said Rachel, a local pilgrim from Sydney.
âIt felt very solemn,â she continued. âThe music was very suitable. Overall, everyone paid a lot of attention to it.â
After the Stations of the Cross performance, Pope Benedict met with a group of disadvantaged youth at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney.