Updated: Apr 29
Brian Gornick, Staff Writer
Over 100,000 Catholic faithful flocked to the Vatican as Pope Francis returned to the public eye to lead Easter Mass on Sunday morning.
38,000 flowers gifted to the Vatican by the Netherlands adorned St. Peter’s Square as the Swiss Guard in traditional garments stood watch. Pope Francis addressed the crowd during the Church’s most important holiday in the liturgical calendar.
Many were unsure if Pope Francis would even appear, let alone give a speech. Pope Francis was recovering from a bronchitis diagnosis in March that kept him in the hospital for several days.
After being released from the hospital, during which he quipped to reporters that he was ‘still alive,’ Pope Francis had an ‘unseasonal cold’ that forced him to skip an outdoor “Way of the Cross” procession at Rome’s Colosseum on Good Friday.
In Pope Francis’ “Urbi et Orbi” blessing or ‘To the City and the World,’ he spoke on issues that plagued countries around the world, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Help the beloved Ukrainian people on their journey towards peace, and shed the light of Easter upon the people of Russia,” Pope Francis said in his blessing.
Pope Francis also called for prayers for the victims from the Turkey earthquakes, as well as called for peace between Israelis and Palestinians after renewed violence in Lebanon and Gaza: “May there be a resumption of dialogue, in a climate of trust and reciprocal respect, between Israelis and Palestinians, so that peace may reign in the Holy City and in the entire region.”
During these calls for peace, Pope Francis’ voice grew more hoarse, and he had to stop at least once to cough. Nevertheless, he finished the vigil and made a few laps around St. Peter’s Square in the popemobile, smiling and waving to the cheering crowds still gathered.