United States

Pope Francis To Pen Own Meditations For Via Crucis At Rome's Colosseum

The reflections will focus on Jesus' experiences in that moment, in line with the Year of Prayer, a period of reflection leading up to the 2025 Jubilee Year.

Pope Francis Photo: AP

For the first time in his 11-year pontificate, Pope Francis will personally write the spiritual reflections for Friday's Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) ceremony at Rome's historic Colosseum. The theme of the reflections will be "In Prayer with Jesus on the Way of the Cross," with each station featuring a unique treatment centered on Jesus' experiences in that moment, as announced by the Holy See Press Office.

Year of Prayer and 2025 Jubilee

This decision is in line with the spiritual focus of the Year of Prayer, a period of reflection leading up to the 2025 Jubilee Year, initiated by Pope Francis. Traditionally, the reflections for the Good Friday ceremony were delegated to various individuals and groups, starting with Pope John Paul II in 1985. However, Pope John Paul II himself interrupted this tradition for the Great Jubilee in 2000, and Pope Benedict XVI continued it throughout his pontificate.

Historical and Religious Significance of the Colosseum

The Colosseum holds significant historical and religious importance for Rome's Christians. Built during the first century A.D. under the Flavian dynasty, it served as a venue for gladiatorial contests, military displays, and theatrical performances. Although archaeological evidence regarding Christian martyrdom at the Colosseum is limited, it remains a powerful symbol of the early Church's persecution.

In 1750, Pope Benedict XIV erected a large cross and the 14 stations of the cross at the Colosseum, dedicating it to the memory of Christ's passion and the martyrs. This tradition continued until 1861 when the Church lost temporal authority over Rome due to Italian unification. The Stations of the Cross ceremony at the Colosseum became a permanent feature of the pope's Holy Week schedule in 1964, under Pope Paul VI.

Pope Francis' Approach to Via Crucis

Over the years, Pope Francis has entrusted the meditations to different groups and individuals, covering themes such as war, migration, and incarceration experiences. Last year's Via Crucis focused on "Voices of Peace in a World at War," incorporating testimonies from victims of violence encountered by Pope Francis during his international apostolic journeys. The full text of this year's meditations will be released Friday morning ahead of the ceremony, beginning at 9:15 p.m. Rome time.