Good Friday at the Colosseum

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Good Friday at the Colosseum

Good Friday in Rome – Join believers during the procession of the 14 stations of the cross at the Colosseum in an Easter celebration with the Pope.

Good Friday Celebration at the Colosseum

Rome Easter Celebrations

Arriving in Rome on late Friday afternoon, I decided to jump right into the celebrations for Easter week starting with the Good Friday “Way of the Cross” at the Colosseum. 

I always try to experience the culture including all religious ceremonies of cultures that I visit.  However, as I was raised as a Catholic, this one was special for me.

Easter Week is Rome is peak season. Normally, I try to avoid the big crowds and tourists and travel in shoulder seasons in a big city like Rome.  This is one week where I will be going straight into the center of the storm to experience the events this week in Rome.

Good Friday Celebration at the Colosseum

I walked down to the Colosseum from my rented apartment around 6:30pm, not really knowing exactly what to expect from lack of information scouring the web.

I started to encounter lots of police and medical staff on stand-by lining the roads as well as a line of port-o-potties.

On one side of the Colosseum, there was a blockaded courtyard, bordered by the Forum and the Arco di Constantino (See map below with red arrow) and they were letting in about 30 people at a time to avoid a rush.

 

Colosseum.Map
Good Friday Celebration at the Colosseum

Good Friday Procession

Entering this area around 7:00pm, there were already a few hundred in this area. Another group next to me said that the Vatican Offices suggest you arrive at 6:00pm to get in the main square. 

The mood in the square was very serene. People were sitting in groups on the ground and singing songs. On the Colosseum behind us was a large screen that would show the procession when it started which I believe was outside the square.

I was about half-way back and this position allowed me to see both the Pope and the screen behind me.  I could not see the procession except for a glimpse of the cross as they walked along the pathway at the front of the crowd under the wall where the Pope was stationed. Around the 12th cross, they ascended the stairs.

However, the celebration is about the prayers of the community as I comfortable in my spot. It was crowded but not crushing.

Good Friday Celebration at the Colosseum
At around 8:30pm, there was some commotion in the crowd as they started to hand out items and this is when everyone stood up who were previously sitting on the ground. First, they passed out prayer books, next candle holders and then finally candles. Surprisingly given that there were over 10,000 people in the crowds including the hillside and I would estimate about 1,000 in the square, everything was quite calm and orderly. I was fairly close up to the front as I arrived 2 hours early, so not sure how many received these items farther back.
Rome.GoodFriday.Easter.1b
Good Friday Celebration at the Colosseum
Good Friday Celebration at the Colosseum

Finally at 9pm, another stir in the crowd. The Pope arrived to chants of “Papa Francesco”. 

The 90 minute procession commenced with the reading of the 14 stations of the cross. It was all in Italian, but the prayer book had illustrated pictures. As I attended Catholic school, these prayers and stations are engrained as the group went through the stations.

Good Friday Celebration at the Colosseum
Good Friday Celebration at the Colosseum

Around the 11th station, the cross was in the square area (I am not sure where the procession was before this), several members came through the middle of the crowd in a marked off area with the cross and torches. 

After they climbed the Forum stairs to where the Pope had been the entire procession, the Pope spoke a few words.

Good Friday Celebration at the Colosseum
Good Friday Celebration at the Colosseum
Good Friday Celebration at the Colosseum

Pope Francis told the crowd in brief remarks that the cross represented the “weight of all our sins.” He decried the “monstrosity of man when he lets himself be guided by evil.” And ended on a note of optimism.

"Evil won't have the last word, but love, mercy and pardon will."

Good Friday Celebration at the Colosseum

Attending a Good Friday mass and walking through the stations of cross always brings me back to the true intent of this day which is the remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us. 

If you are Catholic or not, being a part of this mass is an experience to remember. You will be standing in a location that used to celebrate death with thousands of people who are united if only for a moment  in the BELIEF of goodness and peace and that is something we all can celebrate.

Good Friday Celebration at the Colosseum

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Good Friday Celebration at the Colosseum

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