Palm Sunday marks the start of one of the most full and beautiful liturgical periods of the Catholic Church year.
It is also one of the busiest liturgical periods at the Vatican, where Pope Francis has been scheduled to preside over nine Masses, liturgies, and devotions between April 2 and Easter Monday, April 10.
With Pope Francis having been hospitalized on March 29 for a respiratory infection, it was unclear if he would be well enough to participate in any or some of the liturgies.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni confirmed on April 1 as Pope Francis was discharged from the hospital that the pope is still planning to be present for Palm Sunday Mass on April 2. Pope Francis will preside over the liturgies with a cardinal celebrating at the altar.
Here is the Vatican’s full schedule for Holy Week and Easter 2023:
On Sunday morning, April 2, Pope Francis is scheduled to preside over Mass for Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday or the Commemoration of the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem.
The Mass, which will be in St. Peter’s Square at 10 a.m. local time, will kick off with a grand procession of deacons, priests, bishops, cardinals, and laypeople carrying palms.
The procession includes olive tree branches, palm fronds, and the large, weaved palms called “parmureli,” all blessed by Pope Francis.
Pope Francis is set to start Holy Thursday with a Chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at 9:30 a.m. in the presence of cardinals, bishops, and priests living in Rome.
During the Mass, Pope Francis, as the bishop of Rome, will bless the oil of the sick, the oil of catechumens, and the chrism oil to be used in the diocese during the coming year.
In the evening, the pope will offer Mass at the juvenile detention center "Casal del Marmo," the same detention center where he offered Holy Thursday Mass in 2013, shortly after his election.
In 2022, the pope offered the Mass at a prison in Civitavecchia, a port city about 50 miles northwest of Rome. After the homily, Francis washed the feet of 12 inmates, representing the disciples.
Continuing the liturgies of the Triduum, Pope Francis is also scheduled to preside over a celebration for the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday at 5 p.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica.
During this liturgy, which is not a Mass, instead of the pope papal preacher Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa preaches on Christ’s crucifixion.
In the evening, Francis will lead the Stations of the Cross devotion at the Colosseum at 9:15 p.m.
On Holy Saturday, Pope Francis is set to preside over the Easter Vigil at 7:30 p.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica.
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The Easter Vigil, which takes place on Holy Saturday night, “is the greatest and most noble of all solemnities,” according to the Roman Missal.
The liturgy begins in darkness with the blessing of the new fire and the preparation of the paschal candle. At the Vatican, cardinals, bishops, and priests process through the dark basilica carrying lit candles to signify the light of Christ coming to dispel the darkness.
Pope Francis also typically baptizes new Catholics at this Mass.
The morning of Easter Sunday, Pope Francis will preside over Mass in St. Peter’s Square at 10 a.m. on a flower-decked parvise.