Blooming Easter: Pope Celebrates Amid Flowers - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Blooming Easter: Pope Celebrates Amid Flowers

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NBC News - Pope Francis celebrated his second Easter as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics under sunny skies and amid a burst of blooming flowers.

Sunday Mass was accompanied by music from both the Eastern and Western traditions and held before a crowd of more than 150,000 that overflowed from the cobble-stoned St. Peter's Square. The flowers were thanks to a yearly gift from the florists of the Netherlands.
Many more locals, tourists and pilgrims were still streaming in for the pontiff's traditional Easter greeting at noon.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church's celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine — and some of the hymns at the Vatican Mass on Sunday were in Russian.

Invoking God, he said, "we ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence."

On Saturday evening, the 77-year-old Argentine pope said a solemn Mass before some 10,000 people in St. Peter's Basilica, the largest church in Christendom.

The immense basilica was in darkness for the start of the service to signify the darkness in Jesus' tomb between his death and resurrection. The faithful held lit candles as the pope walked up the main aisle, and then the basilica's lights were turned on in a blaze.

Signifying the end of the penitential season of Lent, which began on March 5 with Ash Wednesday, the basilica's great bells rang out at about the mid-point of the Mass, just as a rain storm hit the Italian capital.

During Saturday night's service the pope maintained an Easter vigil tradition by baptizing 10 people, including three Italian boys and eight adults aged between 34 and 58 from Italy, Belarus, Senegal, Lebanon, France and Vietnam.

In his homily, he recounted the Biblical story of how the faith of the apostles had been shaken after Jesus' death but confirmed by the women who found his tomb empty after his resurrection.

"Their faith had been utterly shaken, everything seemed over, all their certainties had crumbled and their hopes had died. But now that message of the women, incredible as it was, came to them like a ray of light in the darkness," he said.

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