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Easter - Pasqua - Pâques - in 2001

Pope St John Paul II's homily at the Easter Vigil
St Peter's Basilica, 14 April 2001 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

1. “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Lk 24:5).

These words of the two men dressed “in dazzling apparel” rekindle the hope of the women who had rushed to the tomb at the break of dawn. They had experienced the tragic events culminating in Christ’s crucifixion on Calvary; they had felt the sadness and the confusion. In the hour of trial, however, they had not abandoned their Lord.

They go secretly to the place where Jesus was buried in order to see him again and embrace him one last time. They are moved by love, that same love that led them to follow him through the byways of Galilee and Judea, all the way to Calvary.

What fortunate women! They did not yet know that this was the dawn of the most important day of history. They could not have known that they, they themselves, would be the first witnesses of Jesus’ Resurrection.

2. “They found the stone rolled away from the tomb” (Lk 24:2).

So narrates the evangelist Luke, adding that, “when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus” (cf. 24:3). In one brief moment, everything changes. Jesus “is not here, but has risen”. This announcement, which changed the sadness of these pious women into joy, re-echoes with changeless eloquence throughout the Church in the celebration of this Easter Vigil.

A singular Vigil of a singular night. A Vigil, the mother of all vigils, during which the whole Church waits at the tomb of the Messiah, sacrificed on the Cross. The Church waits and prays, listening again to the Scriptures that retrace the whole of salvation history.

But on this night, it is not darkness that dominates but the blinding brightness of a sudden light that breaks through with the starling news of the Lord’s Resurrection. Our waiting and our prayer then become a song of joy: “Exultet iam angelica turba caelorum . . . Exult, O chorus of Angels!”

The perspective of history is completely turned around: death gives way to life, a life that dies no more. In the Preface we shall shortly sing that Christ “by dying destroyed our death, by rising restored our life”. This is the truth that we proclaim with our words, but above all with our lives. He whom the women thought was dead is alive. Their experience becomes our experience.

3. O Vigil imbued with hope, you fully express the meaning of the mystery! O Vigil rich in symbolism, you disclose the very heart of our Christian existence! On this night, everything is marvellously summed up in one name, the name of the Risen Christ.

O Christ, how can we fail to thank you for the ineffable gift which, on this night, you lavish upon us? The mystery of your Death and Resurrection descends into the baptismal waters that receive the old, carnal man and make him pure with divine youthfulness itself.

Into the mystery of your death and resurrection we shall shortly be immersed, renewing our baptismal promises; in a special way, the six catechumens will be immersed in this mystery as they receive Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist.

4. Dearest Brother and Sister Catechumens, I greet you with all the warmth of my heart, and in the name of the Church gathered here I welcome you with brotherly affection. You come form different nations: Japan, Italy, China, Albania, the United States of America and Peru.

Your presence here in Saint Peter’s Square is indicative of the variety of cultures and peoples who have opened their hearts to the Gospel. On this night death gives way to life for you too, as for all the baptized. Sin is erased and a new life begins. Persevere to the end in fidelity and love. And do not be afraid when difficulties arise, for “Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him” (Rom 6:9).

5. Yes, dearest Brothers and Sisters, Jesus lives and we live in him. For ever. This is the gift of this night, which has definitively revealed to the world the power of Christ, Son of the Virgin Mary, whom he gave to us as Mother at the foot of the Cross.

This Vigil makes us part of a day that knows no end. The day of Christ’s Passover, which for humanity is the beginning of a renewed springtime of hope.

“Haec dies quam fecit Dominus: exsultemus et laetamur in ea - This is the day that the Lord has made: let us rejoice in it and be glad”. Alleluia!"

Pope Saint John Paul II's words at the General Audience
Easter Wednesday, 18 April 2001 - in English, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. Today, the customary Wednesday General Audience is flooded with the luminous joy of Easter. At this time, the Church celebrates the great mystery of the Resurrection with exultation. It is a deep and inextinguishable joy based on the risen Christ's gift of the new and everlasting Covenant, which endures because now he dies no more. A joy that continues not only during the Easter Octave, which the liturgy considers a single day, but is extended for 50 days until Pentecost. Indeed, it now embraces all times and all places.

During this period, the Christian community is invited to a new and deeper experience of the risen Christ, living and active in the Church and in the world.

2. In this splendid setting of light and joy that belongs to the Easter season, let us now pause to contemplate together the face of the Risen One, taking up and carrying out what I have not hesitated to call the "core" of the great legacy left to us by the Jubilee of the Year 2000. In fact, as I stressed in my Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, "if we ask what is the core of the great legacy it leaves us, I would not hesitate to describe it as the contemplation of the face of Christ ... known through his manifold presence in the Church and in the world, and confessed as the meaning of history and the light of life's journey" (15).

Just as on Good Friday and Holy Saturday we contemplated the sorrowful face of Christ, we now turn our gaze full of faith and grateful love to the face of the Risen One. The Church looks at him in these days, following in the footsteps of Peter, who professes his love to Christ (cf Jn 21, 15-17), and in the footsteps of Paul, who was overwhelmed by the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus (cf Acts 9, 3-5).

The Easter liturgy presents to us the various encounters with the risen Christ, which are an invitation to reflect on his message and encourage us to imitate the faith journey of those who recognized him in those first hours after the Resurrection. Thus the devout women and Mary Magdalen spur us to bring the news of the Risen One (cf Lk 24, 8-10; Jn 20, 18). The beloved Apostle bears an exceptional witness that it is precisely love which sees the reality symbolized by the signs of the Resurrection; the empty tomb, the absence of the body, the folded burial cloths. Love sees and believes, and urges us to walk towards the One who in himself contains the full meaning of all things: Jesus, living for ever and ever.

3. In today's liturgy the Church contemplates the face of the Risen One, who shares the journey of the two disciples of Emmaus. At the beginning of our meeting, we listened to a passage from this well-known text of the Evangelist Luke.

However tiring, the road to Emmaus leads from a sense of discouragement and bewilderment to the fullness of Easter faith. In retracing this journey, we too are joined by the mysterious traveling Companion. Jesus approaches us on the road, meeting us where we are and asking us the essential questions that open the heart to hope. He has many things to explain about his and our destiny. In particular, he reveals that every human life must pass through his Cross to enter into glory. But Christ does something more: he breaks the bread of sharing for us, offering that Eucharistic Table in which the Scriptures acquire their full meaning and reveal the unique and shining features of the Redeemer's face.

4. After recognizing and contemplating the face of the risen Christ, we too, like the two disciples, are asked to run to our brothers and sisters to bring everyone the great news: "We have seen the Lord!" (Jn 20, 25).

"His Resurrection is our rising to life" (Easter Preface II): this is the good news that Christ's disciples do not tire of bringing to the world, especially through the witness of their own lives. This is the most beautiful gift that our brothers and sisters expect of us in this Easter season.

Let us be captivated, then, by the fascination of Christ's Resurrection. May the Virgin Mary help us to experience in full the joy of Easter: a joy which, as the Risen One promised, no one can ever take from us and which will never end (cf Jn 16, 22)."


"I extend a special greeting to the newly ordained Deacons of the Pontifical Irish College, and I urge you to rely always on the Holy Spirit to guide you in your ministry of word and service. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from England, Ireland, Finland, India and the United States, I invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Saviour. Happy Easter!

Je salue cordialement les francophones présents, notamment les jeunes. Que la joie de Pâques vous soutienne chaque jour! À tous, j’accorde bien volontiers la Bénédiction apostolique.

Je salue particulièrement Monseigneur François Favreau et les pèlerins du diocèse de Nanterre, venus au terme de leur démarche synodale. Chers Amis, je vous encourage à prendre appui sur cette étape de réflexion, de partage et de prière, pour vivre plus intensément votre vie chrétienne personnelle et ecclésiale, et pour ouvrir des chemins d’espérance aux hommes d’aujourd’hui, en leur faisant découvrir le Christ. Par la parole et par l'exemple, vous êtes tous appelés à participer activement à l'annonce de l’Évangile. Vous en trouverez la force dans la méditation de la Parole de Dieu, dans une vie sacramentelle toujours plus intense et dans la charité vécue au quotidien. Je vous invite à porter une attention toute particulière aux familles, pour qu'elles remplissent généreusement leur mission de service de la vie et d'éducation de la jeunesse. Faites une place toujours plus grande aux jeunes! Ils attendent que leurs aînés leur transmettent la Parole de Dieu et les valeurs chrétiennes, et qu’ils leur fassent découvrir la joie qu'il y a à suivre le Christ, qui donne des raisons de vivre; rendez-les toujours plus responsables dans la société et dans l'Église !Que le Seigneur vous accompagne dans votre marche diocésaine!

Erfüllt von österlicher Freude grüße ich die vielen Pilger und Besucher aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Besonders heiße ich die vielen Jugendlichen willkommen, die sich in diesen Tagen auf den Weg nach Rom gemacht haben. Ich bitte euch: Seid für eure Altersgenossen Zeugen der Osterbotschaft und des neuen Lebens, das allen Menschen gilt. Gern erteile ich euch, euren Lieben daheim und allen, die mit uns über Radio Vatikan und das Fernsehen verbunden sind, den Apostolischen Segen.

Com estes pensamentos, saúdo os visitantes da Escola «Jaime Moniz» de Funchal na Ilha da Madeira: faço votos de que a vinda a Roma vos fortaleça na fé e avive no vosso ânimo a coragem de testemunhar a grandeza do amor de Cristo, nosso Salvador. Saúdo, também, aos brasileiros da «Associação Nacional dos Magistrados da Justiça do Trabalho», convidando a se inspirarem sempre nos nobres e elevados princípios da Doutrina Social da Igreja, na defesa dos direitos do trabalhador e de suas famílias. A todos desejo uma feliz e santa Páscoa.

Doy una cordial bienvenida a los fieles de lengua española. De modo particular a los seminaristas mayores de Barcelona y a los alumnos del colegio-seminario de Barbastro. Dejad que Cristo los hable, que grabe su rostro en vuestro corazón y vuestra mente, para hacerlo presente al hombre de hoy. Invito a todos a vivir intensamente la alegría pascual para contagiar con ella a cuantos os rodean.

Muchas gracias por vuestra atención.

Srdacno pozdravljam hodocasnicke skupine iz Splita, Zagreba, Rijeke, Dubrovnika, Zadra, Grohota, Grude, Metkovica i drugih hrvatskih mjesta. Predragi, neka veliki dar, koji je Bog ljudima dao u Kristovu Vazmenom Otajstvu, u vama neprestano budi istinsku radost i nadu koja nece nikada iznevjeriti. Rado udjeljujem apostolski blagoslov svakomu od vas i vašim obiteljima. Hvaljen Isus i Marija!

S láskou vítam študentov z Obchodnej akademie zo Ziliny a tieZ iných pútnikov zo Slovenska. Drahí, nech vel'konočná radost' napa vaše srdcia a svetlo Zmrtvychvstalého vedie vaše kroky. Rád udeujem apoštolské poehnanie vám a vaším drahým. Pochváleny buď Jeziš Kristus.

Ik groet nu de Nederlandse en Belgische pelgrims, in het bijzonder de pelgrims uit het bisdom Roermond, vergezeld van de hulpbisschop Monseigneur Everardus de Jong. Ik wens u toe dat u altijd de vreugde en de vrede van de aanwezigheid van de verrezen Heer in uw midden mag ervaren. Van harte verleen ik u de Apostolische Zegen. Geloofd zij Jezus Christus!

Szeretettel köszöntöm a magyar zarándokokat Úrkútról. Isten hozott Benneteket!

A húsvét hetében az Úr Feltámadásának örvendezünk. Szívbôl adom apostoli áldásomat rátok és szeretteitekre. Dicsértessék a Jézus Krisztus!

Con affetto mi rivolgo ora ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare, saluto i Sacerdoti che celebrano il quarantesimo anniversario della loro Ordinazione, e tra di essi vorrei ricordare Monsignor Rocco Talucci, Arcivescovo di Brindisi-Ostuni, Monsignor Gioacchino Illiano, Vescovo di Nocera Inferiore-Sarno, e Monsignor Giovanni Rinaldi, Vescovo di Acerra. Per tutti voi, carissimi, che insieme vi preparaste al Sacerdozio, e che oggi avete voluto riunirvi qui, circondati da familiari e amici, invoco la speciale protezione dei santi apostoli Pietro e Paolo.

Sono lieto inoltre di salutare i novelli Diaconi della Compagnia di Gesù. Su di voi, carissimi, e sul vostro itinerario formativo e apostolico invoco l'abbondanza dei doni dello Spirito Santo, mentre di cuore benedico voi e i vostri cari.

Il mio pensiero va poi ai malati, agli sposi novelli e ai giovani presenti, specialmente ai numerosi Cresimandi, provenienti da diverse Diocesi e Parrocchie d'Italia. Cari ragazzi e giovani, anche a voi, come ai primi discepoli, Cristo risorto ripete: "Come il Padre ha mandato me, anch'io mando voi ... Ricevete lo Spirito Santo" (Gv 20,21-22). Rispondete con gioia e con amore a questo immenso dono!

Per voi, cari malati, la risurrezione di Cristo sia fonte inesauribile di conforto e di speranza. E voi, cari sposi novelli, siate testimoni del Risorto con il vostro amore coniugale.

Tutti di cuore vi benedico."


"As the light of the risen Christ illumines the whole universe, we can only express solidarity with all our brothers and sisters in the Middle East who have been caught in a maelstrom of armed violence and retaliation.

The roar of weapons must give way to the voice of reason and conscience:  sincere concern for the legitimate aspirations of all peoples and the scrupulous observance of international law are the only way to bring the parties back to the negotiating table and to mark out a path of brotherhood for those peoples.

May God speak to the hearts of those who kill, and have pity on those who succumb to so much violence! Tu nobis, Victor Rex, miserere!"