Pope gifts sleeping bags to homeless, prepares for Easter Vigil Mass

Pope Francis had sleeping bags handed out to homeless people in Rome and was due to lead a solemn Mass in St Peter's Basilica on Saturday as part of the run-up to Easter Sunday.

The sleeping bags were handed out by Papal Almoner Konrad Krajewski and several volunteers, including residents of a Vatican homeless shelter, on Good Friday, as Francis was leading the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession at the Colosseum, the Vatican said.

The Via Crucis is a re-enactment of the 14 stops that Catholics believe Jesus made as he was led to his crucifixion. The Vatican said the sleeping bags were intended as a gifts from the pope "in spiritual unity" with the pre-Easter rite.

In St Peter's, Francis was to preside over the traditional Easter Vigil, during which he was to hand out the baptism, confirmation and holy communion sacraments to 12 adult converts to Catholicism from Italy, Albania, Cameroon, South Korea, India and China.

Easter has special importance for Catholics because it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion.

"To live Easter means to enter into the mystery of Jesus who died and rose for us," Francis wrote on his Twitter account.

On Sunday, celebrations culminate with Easter Mass and the pope's traditional Urbi et Orbi (To the City and to the World) message and blessings.

The ceremonies mark Francis' fourth Easter since his election as leader of the Catholic Church in March 2013.

Last update: Sat, 26/03/2016 - 21:24

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