Pope Francis, day after being discharged from hospital, presides over Palm Sunday mass

Bundled in a long, white coat and fighting with a hoarse voice, Pope Francis Presided over Mass in St. Peter’s Square before tens of thousands of faithful on Palm Sunday. A day after leaving a hospital in Rome where he was treated for bronchitis.

The sun broke through the clouds during the Mass, one of the longest services on the church’s calendar, as Francis, red drapery draped over his coat, sat in a chair under a canopy erected in the square. .

He took his place in the papal mobile after standing and holding a plaited palm branch that followed a long, solemn procession of cardinals, other prelates and rank-and-file Catholics. Participants carried palm branches or olive tree branches.

Francis, 86, received intravenous antibiotics during his three-day stay. His previous appearance in St Peter’s Square saw him hold his regular public audience on Wednesday. He was taken to Rome’s Gimli Polyclinic the same day after feeling ill.

Vatican Pope Palm Sunday
Pope Francis blesses the faithful with olive and palm branches before celebrating Palm Sunday mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Sunday, April 2, 2023, a day after he was discharged from the Augustine Gemelli University Hospital in Rome, where he suffered bronchitis. were being treated. , the Vatican said.

Filippo Montefort / AP

His voice sounded strong as he opened the mass, but soon became strained. Despite the gruffness, Francis read humbly for 15 minutes, occasionally adding off-the-cuff remarks for emphasis or hand gestures.

Empathy focuses on moments when people feel “extreme pain, love that fails, or is rejected or betrayed.” Francis cited “rejected or aborted children” as well as broken marriages, “social exclusion, forms of injustice and oppression.” (and) isolation of illness.”

Breaking out of his prepared speech, Francis spoke of a homeless German man who recently died, “alone, abandoned,” wandering around St. Peter’s Square under the colonnade, where homeless people often gather. sleep

“I also need Jesus to love me and be close to me,” Francis said.

Concerns about abandonment spread through his reverence. “Whole peoples are exploited and abandoned; the poor live on our streets and we look the other way; immigrants are no longer faces but numbers; prisoners are dismissed, people are written off as problems,” Francis said. “Yes,” Francis said.

The Pope also referred to young people who feel a great emptiness inside themselves without anyone to hear their cries of pain, and who “find no way out but suicide.”

Palm Sunday marks Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem leading up to his crucifixion, which Christians celebrate on Good Friday.

At the end of the Mass, Francis greeted the Romans, tourists and pilgrims who flocked to the square, noting that many in the crowd of 60,000 came from far away.

“I thank you for your participation and prayers, that in the last days you intensified,” the pope said, referring to the many wishes for a speedy recovery received during his hospitalization. “Thanks!”

Francis’ appearance on Sunday opened a heavy schedule of Holy Week appointments, including a Holy Thursday Mass at a juvenile prison in Rome. Holy Week concludes on April 9 with the Easter Sunday Mass, which commemorates the Christian faith in the resurrection of Jesus.

Francis said Holy Week would see “more fervent prayer” for the “martyred Ukrainian people”. Russia’s War in Ukrainehe noted that Catholics wave olive branches on Palm Sunday as a symbol of Jesus’ peace.

Afterward, the cardinals greeted Francis one by one, some shaking his hand or chatting briefly with him as he sat in the wheelchair he uses to manage a chronic knee problem. At least one prelate kissed him on each cheek.

Finally, Francis went back to ride around the square in the open-topped popemobile, as he smiled and waved to the faithful, many of whom held up national flags. At one point during the roughly 20-minute journey on the cobblestones, he was led down a section of the boulevard lined with cafes and souvenir shops that leads to St. Peter’s Square.

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