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

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks at a press conference Monday, April 18. (B.C. Government image)
New COVID-19 cases tick down on the central Island

New cases held to single digits three days in a row

Cheryl Dill visits the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Talking jobs, tourism and business with Cheryl Dill in Parksville

Podcast: COVID-19 has far-reaching impacts on Vancouver Island

(File photo)
PQB crime report: Vandals strike in Parksville, prowler lurks in Nanoose Bay

Oceanside RCMP receive 276 complaints in one-week period

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Wickaninnish (Clifford Atleo) plays the drum while singing the Nuu-chah-nulth song on the court steps in Vancouver In a picture from April 2018. Photo credit, Melody Charlie.
Five western Vancouver Island First Nations celebrate legal fishing victory

Court ruling confirms Nuu-chah-nulth fishing rights in case dating back to 2003

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
Island Health seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

VIHA says Ladysmith-area Chakalaka Bar and Grill also violating water and sewer regulations

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Most Read