The curse of human trafficking and the great suffering of its victims will be at the heart of Holy Week 2019. Sister Eugenia Bonetti, the president of ‘Slaves No More’, has been entrusted by Pope Francis to write the reflections for the traditional Way of the Cross on Good Friday. (April 19)
Starting April 14 (Palm Sunday), the Holy Week liturgical cycle in the Vatican should proceed similarly to previous years.
On Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord, Pope Francis will preside over Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Square the morning of April 14, after having blessed palm and olive branches, to commemorate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
The Holy Father will open the Easter Triduum by presiding at the concelebration of the holy chrism Mass, together with patriarchs, cardinals, archbishops, bishops and priests. During the celebration, the Pope will bless the holy oils, or “chrisms,” that will be used for the sacraments during the year.
As is customary, Palm Sunday will coincide with the 34th World Youth Day, which is celebrated at the diocesan level (contrary to the international World Youth Day, which this year was held in January in Panama City) on the theme “Behold the Handmaid of the Lord: May It Be Done to Me According to Your Word” (Luke 1:38). The event is meant to inspire young people to live Holy Week in a deeper way through times of prayer, catechesis and personal reflection.
Holy Thursday at Velletri Correctional Facility
The Pope will travel Holy Thursday to Velletri correctional facility, near Rome, to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and wash the feet of 12 prisoners. The visit will include a meeting with some of the 557 detainees, prison staff, police and local leaders.
The Holy Father has made it a tradition to celebrate Holy Thursday with “people on the peripheries,” whether it is a prison, a refugee camp or a rehabilitation facility. It is the fifth time that he will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper in a prison. He went to Rome’s Casal del Marmo prison for minors on his first year as a pope, in 2013, and then to Rebibbia prison in 2015. He chose the prison of Paliano, south of Rome, in 2017, and Regina Cœli, near the Vatican, in 2018.
On April 19, celebrating the Passion of the Lord, Pope Francis will preside over the Liturgy of the Word, the adoration of the cross and the Communion Rite in St. Peter’s Basilica, starting at 5pm. At 9:15pm, he will participate in the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross), at the Colosseum, at the end of which he will give a reflection and impart his apostolic blessing.
The Easter vigil will take place April 20, beginning at 8:30pm. After blessing the new fire in the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica, and after the processional entrance with the Easter candle and the singing of the Exsultet, the Pope will preside over the Liturgy of the Word, the Baptismal Liturgy and the Celebration of the Eucharist.
Francis will celebrate Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Easter Sunday at 10am. At the end of the celebration, from the central loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica, he will impart the traditional papal blessing urbi et orbi (“to the city of Rome and to the whole world”).