Pope Francis focused his homily at the Easter Vigil on April 16 on the women who went to the tomb, and three of their actions: They saw; they heard; they proclaimed.
The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dean of the College of Cardinals, as the Pope’s inflamed knee continues to make it visibly difficult for him to stand and walk.
The Holy Father, however, went to a seat behind the altar to give the homily. He also performed the baptism of seven people, catechumens from Italy, the United States, Albania and Cuba.
Words of support for Ukraine
Pope Francis concluded his homily going off script with a few words of encouragement addressed to a Ukrainian delegation, with whom he had met before the Mass.
The Pope told them that in their darkness, the darkness “of war, of cruelty,” we can only “give you our company, and our prayer, and say to you, ‘Courage! We accompany you!'”
But also, he assured them, with an affirmation in Ukrainian, “We can tell you the greatest thing that is celebrated today: Christòs voskrés! [Christ is risen!]”
The delegation included the young mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, 33, who had been abducted and tortured by Russian troops from March 11 to 16, 2022, before his release in a prisoner exchange.
These Ukrainian representatives, who are currently on a tour of Western Europe, were received during the day by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope’s Secretary of State. In a tweet, the Ambassador of Ukraine to the Holy See expressed his satisfaction with this meeting and with the modification of the prayer of the 13th Station of the Way of the Cross on Good Friday at the Colosseum, which was replaced by a time of silence.