Pope Francis celebrated his first Palm Sunday Mass at the Vatican on Sunday, Catholic Herald reports. Tens of thousands of pilgrims filled St Peter’s Square for the Mass, which marked the beginning of Holy Week.The Pope spoke in St Peter’s Square as Holy Week, the most important period in the Christian calendar, began. Thousands of people waved olive branches and palm fronds in the crowd.The gesture commemorates palm branches which, according to the Bible, were laid in the path of Jesus Christ when he made his entry on a donkey into Jerusalem before his crucifixion. In his homily the Pope said that embracing the Cross leads to joy.
He said: “Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! “Ours is not a joy that comes from having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person. We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders.”The Pope also noted that Palm Sunday marked the Church’s 28th World Youth Day. He confirmed publicly that he intends to travel to the World Youth Day event in Rio de Janeiro in July. Addressing young people in the congregation, he said: “I look forward joyfully to next July in Rio de Janeiro! I will see you in that great city in Brazil!”
Pope Francis has met his predecessor, Benedict XVI, in the first meeting of two popes in more than 600 years.
The Vatican said the two men embraced on the helipad at Castel Gandolfo where Francis landed. In the chapel where they prayed together, Benedict offered Francis the traditional kneeler used by the pope. Francis refused to take it alone, saying “We’re brothers,” and the two prayed together on the kneeler. The Vatican spokesman, Rev Federico Lombardi, said he understood Benedict offered his pledge of obedience to the new pope, while Francis thanked Benedict for his ministry. He said they both wore white, though Benedict was in a simple cassock without the traditional sash and cape worn by Francis. Benedict has been living at the papal summer villa since he resigned on 28 February, the first pope to step down in 600 years. He has said he plans to live out his final years in prayer and remain “hidden from the world”.