(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on the steps of Rome’s cathedral basilica of St. John Lateran Thursday evening, to mark the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
In the homily he prepared for the occasion, Pope Francis focused on the Eucharist as the source of Christian strength. “From the outset,” he said, “it is the Eucharist which becomes the centre and pattern of the life of the Church: but we think also of all the saints – famous or anonymous – who have ‘broken’ themselves, their own life, in order to ‘give something to eat’ to their brothers and sisters.” The Holy Father went on to say, “How many mothers, how many fathers, together with the slices of bread they provide each day on the tables of their homes, have broken their hearts to let their children grow, and grow well; how many Christians, as responsible citizens, have broken their own lives to defend the dignity of all, especially the poorest, the marginalized and those discriminated; where do they find the strength to do this?” he asked. “It is in the Eucharist: in the power of the Risen Lord’s love, who today too breaks bread for us and repeats: ‘Do this in remembrance of me’.”
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The liturgy was followed by a torchlight Eucharistic procession from the Lateran Basilica to the nearby Basilica of St. Mary Major: an occasion for parish groups, sodalities and charitable and fraternal organisations of all kinds to give public witness to the central mystery of the faith: that Jesus Christ is really, truly, substantially present: body, blood, soul and divinity, under the species of bread and wine.
Ordinary citizens participated too, whether watching from the windows and balconies of the buildings that line the route from the Lateran basilica along the via Merulana to the Basilica of St Mary Major, or joining on foot in the procession itself.
All told, the Mass and procession rad roughly two and a half hours, and ended as the fullness of night fell on the city in late spring, with the Pope leading the faithful in Eucharistic adoration and offering solemn benediction.