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Italian couple prepare pope’s Good Friday meditations

VATICAN (SE): Pope Benedict XVI has chosen an Italian couple to write the meditations for the traditional way of the cross to be held on Good Friday each year in the Roman Colosseum, in Rome, Italy.

Ninety-one-year-old Danilo and 82-year-old Anna Maria Zanzucchi will compose the meditations around the theme of family life for this year’s reflections to be held on April 6.

They founded the New Families Movement in 1967, as an offshoot of the Focolare Movement.

“Our first reaction was one of surprise and I must also say a little fear in the face of this great mystery that is the suffering of Jesus, having to verbalise it seemed too difficult for us,” Zanzucchi said.

“At the same time, we are profoundly grateful to the pope for choosing the theme of the family for something so profound and so strong. Expressing our participation in the redemptive suffering of Jesus is also a gift from God, because it gives us the opportunity to reflect on this reality,” she continued. 

Over the years, Pope Benedict has chosen a diverse group of people to write the meditations for the annual event. Last year, he chose an Augustinian sister, Mother Maria Rita Piccione. The previous year it was Camillo Cardinal Ruini, the retired vicar of the diocese of Rome; and in 2010 he chose Salesian Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, of Guwahati in India.

In 1993, Pope John Paul II entrusted the task to Benedictine Mother Anna Maria Canopi and two years later, Sister Minke de Vries, from a Protestant convent in Switzerland.

In 2002, journalists accredited to the Holy See were asked to do the task and five women and 11 men produced the transcript.

The tradition of praying the way of the cross in the Colosseum was resurrected by Pope Paul VI in 1964, but the tradition goes back to the Holy Year of 1750.

Pope John Paul II decided in 1985 to ask contemporary people to prepare the meditations, while previously they had been drawn from writings of the saints.

In 2008, the then-bishop of Hong Kong, Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, was chosen to pen the meditations for the way of the cross.

While he did not make any direct reference to the Chinese government, he did quote from Pope Benedict’s 30 June 2007 letter to the Church of China, saying he recalled the vision of the Apocalypse of St. John, where the apostle weeps before the seal of the book of human history.

“Only the Lamb that was slain is capable of removing the seal,” the meditation read. The bishop then quoted the pope as saying, “In many parts of the world, the Bride of Christ is undergoing the dark hour of persecution.”

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