Masses, Stations of the Cross and Celebrations of the Holy Week in & around Rome

Masses, Stations of the Cross and Celebrations of the Holy Week in & around Rome

The key religious holiday of the year is approaching fast and we need to write down some key appointments for those who want to live the religious experience of Rome and surroundings at Easter.

The main Holy Week events start on Maunday Thursday with the Chrism Mass for the blessing of the Holy Oils at 9:30am in St. Peter’s. Holy Thursday also features the Mass of the Lord’s Supper – at 5:30pm in the basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano (officiated by the Pope) – that opens the Easter Triduum that includes Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. Free ticket required at the Prefecture of the Papal Household.


The most intense and fascinating religious celebrations, however, take place on Good Friday as the Church mourns for Christ’s death and the Passion account form the Gospel of John is read and meditated in St. Peter’s (the Pope officiates) and in the basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, both at 5pm. At 9:15pm the Pope begins the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum.

An alternative and very popular Good Friday ceremony in Rome – with the Stations of the Cross – is held at the Sanctuary of our Lady of the Divine Love from 9pm.

Out of Rome there are many other interesting celebrations. In Nerola, based on Zeffirelli’s work “Jesus from Nazareth”. In Bracciano 150 people plus 50 technicians make the historical commemoration. In Castel Madama this tradition goes back hundreds of years while in Albano Laziale it “only” started in 1821. Wooden statues are brought around Civitavecchia by hooded people enlightened by torchs and old lamposts. Sezze, “the city of Passion”, also has a very touching Stations of the Cross celebration.


Holy Saturday is the Easter vigil Day. The vigil acutally begins at 9pm in the Vatican with the Pope. Paschal candel is lit since Christ is light and life. Alternative ceremony in San Giovanni in Laterano from 10pm.


Easter Sunday is the day when Jesus rises. Blessing by the Pope at 10:10am in St. Peter’s square. Rome Diocese’s choir performs for the Easter Mass at the church of S.Cecilia in Trastevere: 12pm.


For non-catholic christians, we recommend the orthodox celebrations at Saint Catherin the Great Martyr from Saturday 23 to Monday 25.


2012 updated version of this article here!

For other info on key religious holidays in Rome, read our Epiphany and Christmas stories.