Pope Paul carried a wooden cross over the Palatine hill in Rome on Good Friday (16 April) to mark the crucifixion of Christ.
Pope Paul carried a wooden cross over the Palatine hill in Rome on Good Friday (16 April) to mark the crucifixion of Christ. The four-foot (1.30 metres) high cross was made of specially light wood to spare the Pope from over-exertion.
The 78-year-old leader of the world's 600-million Roman Catholics looked moved but in good health as he took over the cross for the final four stations which commemorated the disrobement of Christ, his nailing to the cross, his death and his burial.
Walking slowly and stopping often to kneel in prayer, the Pope finally reached an open-air alter on top of the hill overlooking the ruins of ancient Rome and the massive Colosseum.
From there, he briefly addressed the masses. In contrast to previous years in which he include social problems in his speech, the Pope reflected solely on religious issues.
Thousands of pilgrims from throughout the world watched the ceremony under the glaring light of flood lamps, candles and flaming crosses. The ceremony was also relayed to a television audience of about 250-million people in Europe and Latin America.