Pope Benedict winds down papal activities with Ash Wednesday’s Mass
On Ash Wednesday, retiring Pope Benedict XVI will say his last mass in an unusual location for the first day of Lent, his handlers have said.
Pope Benedict will hold the Ash Wednesday Mass in the St. Peter’s Basilica, a location the Vatican said was chosen spontaneously because of the buzz created by the Pope’s resignation announcement on Monday.
“It’s very clear that St. Peter’s is a much bigger church than Santa Sabina in Aventino, so for a celebration in which we expect there will be a lot of faithful, bishops and cardinals who wish to be present to pray together with the Pope, St. Peter’s Basilica was chosen spontaneously,” Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, told EWTN News on Tuesday.
“It’s a natural motive of space and it’s also necessary to bear in mind that this will probably be the last big liturgical celebration, the last Mass, presided over by the Pope with the cardinals.
“So it’s normal that it occurs in his church, in St. Peter’s Basilica,” the Vatican spokesman said.
Pope Benedict XVI was scheduled to preside over the traditional Lenten Stations of the Cross at Saint Anselmo Church, followed by a procession to Santa Sabina Basilica on Rome’s Aventine Hill.
The traditional procession is composed of Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, the Benedictine monks of Saint Anselmo, the Dominican friars of Santa Sabina and lay people.
The Pope also plans to hold a general audience on a day before his February 28 retirement date, and recite the Angelus from his apartment window overlooking St. Peter’s Square two more times.