Pope Francis lay prostrate on the floor in front of hundreds of worshippers at the Vatican today as part of a service to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus.
The 82-year-old pontiff sprawled himself out on a carpet, face down, with his hand up to his head, as he lead the Good Friday prayers.
He was helped down to the floor by Papal Master of Ceremonies, Monsignor Guido Marini and lay with a red pillow under his face as he prostrated himself at the altar.
Francis made the horizontal tribute was in the centre of St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican as part of the ‘Passion of Christ Mass’ service at the Vatican today.
Rome is also busily preparing for the 2,000-year-old Colosseum Way of the Cross procession, presided over by Francis.
Buses and other traffic were being re-routed away from the ancient Roman arena for the Good Friday night ritual, which draws thousands of pilgrims and tourists.
This year’s meditations, to be read aloud during the 90-minute torchlight procession, were composed by an Italian nun, Eugenia Bonetti, who works to rescue migrants and other women forced into prostitution on Italy’s streets by human traffickers.
Francis has frequently championed the welfare of migrants since his election to the papal throne.
Before heading to the Colosseum, where a lightweight crucifix is carried by faithful, Francis will attend an early evening solemn prayer service at the Vatican focusing on the suffering of Jesus before his death by crucifixion.
Yesterday Francis washed and kissed the feet of 12 prisoners at a traditional service, telling them to shun any inmate hierarchy structure or law of the strongest and to help each other instead.
According the Catholic Liturgical Library, the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion happens every Good Friday close to three o’clock – the time Christians believe Jesus died.
The ceremony at St Peter’s Basilica began at 5pm. Good Friday is the one day of the year Roman Catholics do not offer Mass.
Pope Francis wore a red cape on top of his robes, and removed his zucchetto cap to pray in the beautifully ornate basilica.
Source: Daily Mail