Vatican announces Pope will not preside at Holy Week celebrations


Today the Vatican announced the schedule of liturgical events for Holy Week. The calendar was released by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

While it is hoped that he will be back in the Vatican in time for Holy Week, the Holy See also announced that Pope John Paul II is not scheduled to be part of the week’s events. Various cardinals however, will preside at the liturgies. 

The schedule of events, as provided by the Vatican, is as follows:

SUNDAY, March 20: Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord, 20th World Youth Day on the theme "We have come to adore Him." The celebration will begin at 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Square with the blessing of palms and olive branches.

It will be presided by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome. This will be followed by a procession and the celebration of the Mass of the Lord's Passion.
THURSDAY, March 24: Holy Thursday. The celebration will take place in St. Peter's Basilica at 9:30 a.m. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, will preside at the concelebration of the Chrism Mass and blessing of the holy oils along with cardinals, bishops, and diocesan and religious priests present in Rome as a sign of the close union between the pastor of the universal Church and his brothers in the priestly ministry.

The Easter Triduum of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection will begin in St. Peter's Basilica at 5:30 p.m. with the Mass of Our Lord's Last Supper. Cardinals, bishops and priests are invited to concelebrate Mass, which will be presided by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

After the homily, the rite of the washing of the feet will take place. During this rite, those present will be invited to give alms for the people of Venezuela, hit by devastating floods in the month of February. The sum collected will be given to the Holy Father.

At the end of the celebration the Blessed Sacrament will be transferred to the chapel of reposition.
FRIDAY, March 25: Good Friday. Liturgy will take place in St. Peter's Basilica at 5 p.m. Cardinal James Francis Stafford, major penitentiary, will preside at the celebration of the Passion of Our Lord.

The celebration will be divided into three moments: Liturgy of the Word, the adoration of the Cross, and Eucharistic communion. The Stations of the Cross will take place at the Colosseum at 9:15 p.m. After the traditional 14 stations, the ceremony will conclude on Rome's Palatine hill.
SATURDAY, March 26: At 8 p.m. The Easter Vigil will be presided over by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and will begin with the blessing of the new fire in the atrium of St. Peter's Basilica.

After the entrance procession with the Easter candle and the singing of the "Exsultet," the liturgies of the Word, Baptism and the Eucharist, will be concelebrated by gathered cardinals.
SUNDAY, March 27: Easter Sunday. At 10:30 a.m. Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Square. After the celebration, at midday, the Holy Father will impart the "Urbi et Orbi" ("to the city and the world") blessing. 

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