ROME, April 18 (UPI) -- Pope Francis presided over the Good Friday service at the Vatican Basilica on Friday evening and is expected to lead the Way of the Cross ceremony at the Colosseum later in the evening.
Vatican Radio reported that the service, attended by hundreds, included "10 universal prayer intentions specific to Good Friday: for the Church, the Pope, and all orders and degrees of the faithful, for catechumens, Christian unity, and the Jewish people, for those who do not believe in Christ and for those who do not believe in God, for all in public office and for all in special need."
In the second half of the Good Friday liturgy, a 13th-century hymn was sung about Mary's suffering at the crucifixion of Jesus. A cross was then placed before the altar for the congregation's adoration and veneration. The liturgy concluded in silence.
The social media-savvy Holy Father tweeted a Good Friday meditation:
It is not easy to follow Jesus closely, because the path he chooses is the way of the Cross.— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 18, 2014
Later Friday, Pope Francis is expected to preside over the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum in Rome.
According to Vatican Radio, "The Way of the Cross is a centuries-old and much beloved devotion, that began as a sort of spiritual pilgrimage to the places and scenes and events of Christ’s passion for those who could not make the pilgrimage to the Holy Land in person, as well as for those who had made it and wished to relive their experience, and for those who were preparing for the journey."
In the 18th century, "stations" of the cross were erected in churches.