Children’s reflections of regret or other emotional moments of their life were read aloud, alternately, by a boy and a girl, as Pope Francis listened. (Angelo Carconi/Pool photo via AP)

Children’s reflections of regret or other emotional moments of their life were read aloud, alternately, by a boy and a girl, as Pope Francis listened. (Angelo Carconi/Pool photo via AP)

Pope on Good Friday hears children tell of pandemic losses

Francis prayed that God would give people his hope so ‘we will be able to recognize you even in the darkest moments of our life’

Pope Francis prayed that people don’t feel lost amid the problems of the pandemic as he listened to children’s poignant accounts of sorrow and loneliness, which provided the motif for an unusual Way of the Cross torch-lit Good Friday procession in St. Peter’s Square.

Sitting under a canopy erected over a platform outside St. Peter’s Basilica on a warm evening, Francis presided over the procession, which, for a second year due to pandemic concerns, couldn’t be held at its traditional venue, Rome’s Colosseum. The appointment at the ancient arena normally draws thousands of pilgrims, tourists and Romans. But pandemic safety measures have seen tourism practically vanish from Italy.

Instead, candles were placed in a circle around the square’s central obelisk. The flames, moving in a breeze, cast golden reflections on the dark gray cobblestones of the square. A nun helped a young boy carry a tall, lightweight slender cross at the start of the procession.

Children’s reflections of regret or other emotional moments of their life were read aloud, alternately, by a boy and a girl, as the pope listened.

One child wrote plaintively of loneliness in the COVID-19 pandemic, from not being able to visit her grandparents to keep them safe from contagion and from missing volleyball teammates, school chums and teachers since schools in Italy have been closed for long stretches due to lockdown.

“The sadness of loneliness at times becomes unbearable,” the girl wrote.

After that child’s account was read, Francis rose and prayed that the Lord would “enlighten us in this dark night, so we don’t lose our way in this difficult period.”

The individual authors of the meditations were not identified by the Vatican. But they were penned by scouts from Umbria and children from a Roman Catholic parish in Rome, the Vatican said.

Also read was a child’s account of losing a grandparent. “From the ambulance, men got out who looked like astronauts, covered in protective gowns, gloves, masks and visors. They took away Grandpa, who for some days was struggling to breathe. It was the last time I saw Grandpa,” the child wrote, adding that “I imagine (him) suffering also due to loneliness.”

At another point in the ceremony, Francis prayed that God would give people his hope so “we will be able to recognize you even in the darkest moments of our life.”

The ceremony, which recalls Jesus’ suffering in the hours before his crucifix and death on a cross, ended with the pope’s blessing. Then a small boy wandered onto the platform where Francis was standing, and the pope leaned over to greet him. A few more children scampered up onto the platform to give Francis hugs.

At the ceremony’s completion, the pope was limping badly as he made his way toward the basilica. Francis has been suffering from a bad bout of sciatica, a nerve inflammation that causes back or leg pain.

Pope Francis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

Accessibility improvements and more classrooms at the Houston Christian School should be completed by the new school year. (Houston Today photo)
Accessibility improvements coming to Houston Christian School

Construction package includes two classrooms

The soft opening of the nature centre at the Buck Creek CANFOR hatchery took place mid-April. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)
Houston hatchery and nature centre’s upcoming events

The conservation group to host summer students this year

Council wants a say in the expansion of long term care services in Smithers. Pictured here is the Bulkley Lodge facility in that community. (Google photo)
Long term care remains on council priority list

Wants to be involved in expansion plans in Smithers

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Junior A team Coquitlam Express is offering all Tri-City residents who get vaccinated against COVID-19 a free ticket to one of their games. (Facebook/Coquitlam Express)
B.C. hockey team offering free tickets to hometown fans who get the COVID-19 vaccine

‘We know the only way to get fans back is people getting vaccinated,’ says Express’ general manager Tali Campbell

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s latest COVID-19 restrictions cost thousands of service jobs

Part-time workers set back again by spike in virus spread

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Leaked report shows detailed B.C. COVID-19 data not being released to public

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Abbotsford school board trustee Phil Anderson has stepped down after sharing an offensive image on Facebook. (File photo)
Abbotsford trustee temporarily steps down after sharing post relating COVID masks to slavery

Phil Anderson to receive training to better understand provincial mask mandate after posting picture

B.C. announced the launch of an app May 7 that connects youth struggling with mental health and substance use with “life-saving” social services. (Screen grab)
5 years in the making: Mental health app for youth and children launches in B.C.

The province provided $1.6-million to fund a virtual care platform

Amazon has announced the creation of five new facilities in B.C., to employ about 2,000 people. (Amazon/Special to Black Press Media)
Amazon adds new facilities in Langley, Pitt Meadows, Delta, Vancouver

The Vancouver port centre will be the first Amazon centre to feature robotics in B.C.

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Most Read