Pope Benedict XVI presided over a torch-lit Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum on Good Friday and encouraged people to hold on to hope amid suffering, as Italy grappled with death and destruction from a devastating earthquake.
Tens of thousands of faithful, clutching prayer books and candles in paper lanterns, turned out for the traditional Holy Week appointment at the ancient Roman arena.
"Dear brothers and sisters, we have come to sing together a hymn of hope," Benedict said in an opening prayer. "We want to tell ourselves that all is not lost in moments of difficulty."
Benedict, who turns 82 next week, wore a crimson-colored, ermine-trimmed cape against the cool night air. Kneeling on a terrace overlooking the Colosseum, he folded his hands in prayer and bowed his head in reflection as prelates and rank-and-file Catholics took turns carrying a slender, lightweight wooden cross in the procession.