.- The Holy See has released its schedule for the celebration of Holy Week and the Easter Triduum this year in the Vatican. Officials announced that Pope Benedict himself will preside at the solemn events which mark the holiest days on the Church calendar.
The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff said in a statement today that the Church’s Holy Week celebrations will begin April 9th--Palm Sunday--with the traditional blessing of palms and olive branches. Following a procession, Pope Benedict will preside at the Mass of the Lord’s Passion.
On Holy Thursday morning in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Holy Father will concelebrate the Chrism Mass with Cardinals Bishops and a number of priests from the diocese of Rome.
The Holy See called this concelebration “a sign of the close union between the pastor of the Universal Church and his brothers in the priestly ministry.”
That evening, the Easter Triduum will begin at the Basilica of St. John Lateran at 5.30 p.m. with the Mass of Our Lord's Last Supper, presided at by the Holy Father. During the liturgy, the Pope will wash the feet of 12 place recalling Jesus own action at the Last Supper.
Those present will be invited to give alms for the victims of recent landslides in Maasin, Philippines.
Following Mass, the Blessed Sacrament will be transferred to the chapel of reposition, where it will remain until Saturday night, signifying Jesus’ death and burial.
On Good Friday, Pope Benedict will preside at the celebration of the Passion of Our Lord in the Vatican Basilica before leading the Stations of the Cross at Rome’s Coliseum at 9.15 p.m. Following that, he will address the gathered faithful and will impart his apostolic blessing.
The pinnacle of the Holy Week celebrations, the Easter Vigil will begin at 10.00 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, where the Pope will begin by blessing the new fire in the atrium of the church.
Benedict will then preside over the Mass and the Baptismal liturgies. He will concelebrate with members of the College of Cardinals who are in Rome.
Triduum celebrations will conclude on Easter Sunday at 10.30 a.m., when the Holy Father will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Square, after which he will impart the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing ("to the city and the world").
This historic blessing will be given from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica.