(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday evening presided over a penitential service in St. Peter's Basilica in anticipation of the ’24 Hours for the Lord’ initiative.
During the service, the Holy Father celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation for seven penitents with confession and individual absolution.
These included three men and four women, all of whom were lay people. A communique from the Holy See Press Office said the confessions lasted a total of around 50 minutes.
The service took place one week before all churches around the world are asked to offer the sacrament of Confession, a request made by the Pontifical Council for the Promoting of the New Evangelization.
The theme of the initiative this year comes from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew: ‘I desire Mercy’ (Mt 9:13).
On Friday 24th March, the churches of Santa Maria in Trastevere and Le Stimmate di San Francesco will remain open from 8pm for Confession and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
On Saturday 25th March, a service of thanksgiving will take place at 5pm in the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia. Monsignor Rino Fisichella, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promoting of the New Evangelization, will preside over First Vespers of the Fourth Sunday of Lent.
People around the world can show their support for the initiative by using the #24hoursfortheLord hashtag.