Thousands came to Saint Peter’s Square Sunday for to watch as Pope Benedict marked the start of Christianity's Holy Week.
Palm Sunday Mass in Saint Peter’s Square was celebrated by Pope Benedict under a bright sunshine and blue skies. The service began with a procession of cardinals, bishops and priests carrying palm fronds and olive branches.
Many young people turned out for the ceremony, which marks the start of one of the busiest times in the Catholic Church’s calendar for Benedict, who turned 84 years old on Saturday. April 19, will be the sixth anniversary of the day he was elected pope.
Wearing red and gold vestments, Pope Benedict said the Palm Sunday procession represents the start of a pilgrimage along the high road that leads to God. The pope said mankind has managed to accomplish many things over the centuries but not all of them have been for good. He said the possibilities for evil also have increased and appear like menacing storms above history.
Pope Benedict said human limitations have also remained, and added that we need but think of the disasters that have caused so much suffering for humanity in recent months.
Thousands of pilgrims have been arriving in Rome to take part in the events at the Vatican during this Holy Week and for Easter Sunday, which comes just one week before the beatification ceremony of Pope John Paul II on May 1.