POPE FRANCIS: “IF CHRIST HAD NOT RISEN, CHRISTIANITY WOULD LOSE ITS MEANING” – REGINA COELI: THE JOY AND WONDER OF THE RESURRECTION – APRIL 21, ROME CELEBRATES 2,767TH BIRTHDAY (2024)

I will not re-create all the papal events and homilies of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and the Easter vigil in this column but if you are anxious to have the full texts of papal remarks and homilies, please visit: http://www.news.va/en

Instead, I offer the text of Pope Francis’ Urbi et Orbi Message and blessing on Easter as well as his words today at the Regina Coeli (which replaces the Angelus during the Easter season). The Urbi et Orbi – that is, to the city and to the world – is accompanied by a plenary indulgence for all the faithful taking part in the celebration, either in person or through the various communications media, under the four usual conditions.

I have to admit that I was both surprised and delighted to see that quite a number of websites of secular publications offered the entire text of the Holy Father’s Easter Message! His was a strong message, a papal plea to the Lord for a better world, a world free of war, injustice, violence, bias, prejudice, hatred, intolerance, a world that would be like Jesus, for “in Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.”

I posted about 6 videos that I took in the square yesterday morning, including two of Pope Francis as he passed in front of me in the white jeep. You can see those by clicking below on my youtube page.

POPE FRANCIS: “IF CHRIST HAD NOT RISEN, CHRISTIANITY WOULD LOSE ITS MEANING”

All the beauty, pageantry and color of Easter was in full evidence on Sunday in St. Peter’s Square as the Eucharistic celebration marking the Resurrection of Christ was presided over by Pope Francis under a warm sun and delft-blue, cloudless skies in the presence of an estimated 150,000 faithful.

POPE FRANCIS: “IF CHRIST HAD NOT RISEN, CHRISTIANITY WOULD LOSE ITS MEANING” – REGINA COELI: THE JOY AND WONDER OF THE RESURRECTION – APRIL 21, ROME CELEBRATES 2,767TH BIRTHDAY (1)

The stunning floral decorations in St. Peter’s Square were provided by, as is traditional, florists and flower growers of Holland. The florists leave Schiphol for Rome on Holy Thursday, whereas the trucks filled with vegetation and flowers depart earlier in the Holy Week but arrive on Thursday in Rome. According to the website of the floral purveyors, months of preparations are needed. All the material is brought from the Netherlands. Flower bulbs are chosen, stored in refrigerated containers and a couple of days before departure are placed in greenhouses in order to ensure that they flower at
precisely the right moment.

POPE FRANCIS: “IF CHRIST HAD NOT RISEN, CHRISTIANITY WOULD LOSE ITS MEANING” – REGINA COELI: THE JOY AND WONDER OF THE RESURRECTION – APRIL 21, ROME CELEBRATES 2,767TH BIRTHDAY (2)

The meticulous preparation is necessary due to the very limited time available once at the Vatica. The arrangements are made on Good Friday. The positioning of the flowers in St. Peter’s Square takes place on Saturday. The finishing touches and final checks take place in the early hours of Easter Sunday. The time allowed for working on the plant and flower displays is extremely short. The open air decorations remain for a few
days only, after which the Vatican gardeners clear everything away. All the plants are then re-located to the Vatican gardens.

POPE FRANCIS: “IF CHRIST HAD NOT RISEN, CHRISTIANITY WOULD LOSE ITS MEANING” – REGINA COELI: THE JOY AND WONDER OF THE RESURRECTION – APRIL 21, ROME CELEBRATES 2,767TH BIRTHDAY (3)

The choice of flowers vary each year but on average there are 30 tons of plants and materials, This year there were 35,000 flowers, including12,000 tulips, 6,000 daffodils, 2,500 hyacinths, 15,000 narcissus, and 2,500 white roses, and thousands of individual flowers, violets, rhododendron, azaleas and a number of meter-high trees.

Pope Francis did not deliver a homily during Mass but gave the traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) Message and Blessing to the crowd at the conclusion of Mass, and following his spin in St. Peter’s Square in the white, open jeep.

POPE FRANCIS: “IF CHRIST HAD NOT RISEN, CHRISTIANITY WOULD LOSE ITS MEANING” – REGINA COELI: THE JOY AND WONDER OF THE RESURRECTION – APRIL 21, ROME CELEBRATES 2,767TH BIRTHDAY (4)

POPE FRANCIS: “IF CHRIST HAD NOT RISEN, CHRISTIANITY WOULD LOSE ITS MEANING” – REGINA COELI: THE JOY AND WONDER OF THE RESURRECTION – APRIL 21, ROME CELEBRATES 2,767TH BIRTHDAY (5)

Pope Francis at the end of Mass and before getting into the white jeep.

POPE FRANCIS: “IF CHRIST HAD NOT RISEN, CHRISTIANITY WOULD LOSE ITS MEANING” – REGINA COELI: THE JOY AND WONDER OF THE RESURRECTION – APRIL 21, ROME CELEBRATES 2,767TH BIRTHDAY (6)

The complete text of the Urbi et Orbi follows:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Easter!

The Church throughout the world echoes the Angel’s message to the women: “Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised… Come, see the place where he lay” (Mt 28:5-6).

This is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News par excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This event is the basis of our faith and our hope. If Christ were not raised, Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever anew. The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.

That is why we tell everyone: “Come and see!” In every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love: it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast… “Come and see!”: Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness.

With this joyful certainty in our hearts, today we turn to you, risen Lord!

Help us to seek you and to find you, to realize that we have a Father and are not orphans; that we can love and adore you.

Help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.

Enable us to protect the vulnerable, especially children, women and the elderly, who are at times exploited and abandoned.

POPE FRANCIS: “IF CHRIST HAD NOT RISEN, CHRISTIANITY WOULD LOSE ITS MEANING” – REGINA COELI: THE JOY AND WONDER OF THE RESURRECTION – APRIL 21, ROME CELEBRATES 2,767TH BIRTHDAY (7)

Enable us to care for our brothers and sisters struck by the Ebola epidemic in Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and to care for those suffering from so many other diseases that are also spread through neglect and dire poverty.

Comfort all those who cannot celebrate this Easter with their loved ones because they have been unjustly torn from their affections, like the many persons, priests and laity, who in various parts of the world have been kidnapped.

Comfort those who have left their own lands to migrate to places offering hope for a better future and the possibility of living their lives in dignity and, not infrequently, of freely professing their faith.

We ask you, Lord Jesus, to put an end to all war and every conflict, whether great or small, ancient or recent.

We pray in a particular way for Syria, that all those suffering the effects of the conflict can receive needed humanitarian aid and that neither side will again use deadly force, especially against the defenseless civil population, but instead boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue!

POPE FRANCIS: “IF CHRIST HAD NOT RISEN, CHRISTIANITY WOULD LOSE ITS MEANING” – REGINA COELI: THE JOY AND WONDER OF THE RESURRECTION – APRIL 21, ROME CELEBRATES 2,767TH BIRTHDAY (8)

We ask you to comfort the victims of fratricidal acts of violence in Iraq and to sustain the hopes raised by the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

We beg for an end to the conflicts in the Central African Republic and a halt to the brutal terrorist attacks in parts of Nigeria and the acts of violence in South Sudan.

We ask that hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord in Venezuela.

By your resurrection, which this year we celebrate together with the Churches that follow the Julian calendar, 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 and, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country’s future.

Lord, we pray to you for all the peoples of the earth: you who have conquered death, grant us your life, grant us your peace!

The Pope concluded his remarks by thanking the 30 Dutch florists who donated the flowers for the square and the area around the altar.

REGINA COELI: THE JOY AND WONDER OF THE RESURRECTION

Pope Francis began his Regina Coeli address on Monday by saying Happy Easter! Christ is risen! He is truly risen!”

The Holy Father told the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square that the dominant feeling that shines in the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection is one of joy and wonder, and he went on to say that in the liturgy we relive the mood of the disciples with the news that the women had brought, Jesus is risen!

“Let this experience imprinted in the Gospel,” he said, “be imprinted in our hearts and in our lives. Let the joyous wonder of Easter Sunday radiate through our thoughts, looks, attitudes, gestures and words … Let this come from within us.”

When it comes from within, Pope Francis added, “from a heart immersed in the source of this joy, it is like that of Mary Magdalene, who wept for the loss of her Lord and could not believe her eyes seeing him risen.”

The person who does this, said the Pope becomes a witness to the resurrection and is then able to bring the “ray ” of light of the Risen Lord to various human situations such as spreading happiness, helping those in pain and bringing serenity and hope.

Focusing on the Gospel accounts of Jesus’s resurrection Pope Francis urged the faithful to read these particular chapters stressing it does us good to do this. Recalling the Mother of Jesus, the Holy Father said, we would do well this week to think about Mary, as her pain was strong enough to pierce her soul.

In going through the experience of the death and resurrection of her Son, her heart became a source of peace, comfort, hope, and mercy. Mary, underlined the Pope is the Mother full of hope, the Mother of all the disciples, the Mother of the Church. (NEWS.VA)

APRIL 21, ROME CELEBRATES 2,767TH BIRTHDAY

Italy’s capital celebrates its 2,767th birthday on Monday, April 21, which this year falls on Easter Monday, or Pasquetta, a public holiday in Italy. Known as Natale di Roma, the annual birthday celebration is based on the legendary foundation of Rome by Romulus (of Romulus and Remis fame) in 753 BC, although a recent find in the Roman Forum would suggest that the city is more than 100 years older.

The claims were made by the archaeologist responsible for the Forum, Patrizia Fortini, whose team unearthed a wall near the Curia Julia and the ancient shrine known as the Lapis Niger, whose site includes a black stone block with the earliest inscription found in Rome. The ceramic material discovered around the tufa wall was dated “between the ninth century and the beginning of the eighth century” according to Fortini.

Notwithstanding the new archaeological revelations, the traditional birthday celebrations go ahead as planned in the capital on April 21. For the last 20 years members of the historical dramatic society “Gruppo Storico Romano” have brought history to life by re-enacting battles, historic events, and displays of ancient theatre and dance in the city centre. This year the group opens the birthday celebrations with a fire-lighting ceremony in the Circus Maximus at 10:45, followed at 11:30 with a costumed parade. This spectacle involves more than 1,600 gladiators, senators, vestal virgins and priestesses and the route begins and ends at the Circus Maximus, taking in Via del Teatro di Marcello, Piazza Venezia, Via dei Fori Imperiali and the Colosseum along the way.

The foundation of Rome is marked at the Circus Maximus that afternoon between 3 and 7 pm with a number of ceremonies. The city’s birthday has been marked annually since 1870. The “date of birth” is believed to have been established by the first-century BC historian Marcus Terentius Varro who based his findings on a date ascertained by his friend, the astrologer, mathematician and philosopher Lucius Taruntius Firmanus. (From “Wanted in Rome”)

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POPE FRANCIS: “IF CHRIST HAD NOT RISEN, CHRISTIANITY WOULD LOSE ITS MEANING” – REGINA COELI: THE JOY AND WONDER
        OF THE RESURRECTION – APRIL 21, ROME CELEBRATES 2,767TH BIRTHDAY (2024)
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