Pope Benedict XVI leads Easter Vigil
Apr 7, 2012, 19:39 GMT
Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI entered a darkened St Peter's Basilica carrying a tall candle late Saturday in the Vatican to begin the annual Easter vigil.
The pontiff, who turns 85 this month, used a mobile platform - a device to aid movement that he has used since late last year - and began making his way up the basilica's central nave.
Taking their cue from the pontiff, the faithful in attendance lit their own candles, flames flickering inside the immense church. For Catholics, illuminating the darkness symbolizes the salvation brought about by Jesus' resurrection.
Outside, on a cool spring night in Rome, tens of thousands more watched the ceremony on several giant screens erected on St Peter's Square.
During the vigil, Benedict was scheduled to deliver a homily and administer Catholic sacraments of baptism, Holy Communion and confirmation to eight converts - nationals of Italy, Albania, Slovakia, Germany, Turkmenistan, Cameroon and the United States, the Vatican said.
On Good Friday, Benedict presided over the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession at Rome's Colosseum to commemorate the last hours leading to Jesus' crucifixion.
In his address, the pontiff spoke of the 'trials and tribulations' faced by many families, including those caused by economic crisis.
In specially penned reflections read out during the ceremony, the faithful were invited to meditate on how Jesus suffered and died under the weight of human sins, including those committed within the context of family life. These included marital infidelity, divorce and abortions.
Since becoming pope in 2005, Benedict has often reiterated Catholic teachings on the traditional family, based on marriage between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation. He has often spoken out against divorce, same-sex unions and abortion.
On Sunday, the pope is due to deliver his Urbi et Orbi message and blessing 'to the city and the world.'
Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is regarded by Christians as their most important religious feast.
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