Videomessage of Pope Francis to the Confraternities of Mérida, Spain 

By Adriana Masotti

Mar 18 2024

In a video message to the Confraternities of Mérida, Spain, Pope Francis recalls how Holy Week is “a time of grace” to be dedicated to prayer and to our brothers and sisters most in need.

Mérida is one of Spain’s most renowned cities for its ancient Roman monuments, so much so that it is called the “Spanish Rome.” Founded as a colony by soldiers of Augustus in 25 B.C., its historic center boasts the Arch of Trajan, the Roman Bridge, the Temple of Diana, and a Roman Amphitheater, among others sites. And it is around these places that religious processions, parades and the Stations of the Cross are held during Holy Week.

Spiritual closness with Mérida 

In the video message addressed to the many local Confraternities that promote the religious events, the Pope observed that very few cities can experience the days that changed the history of humanity in settings with more than two thousand years of antiquity, contemporary with the time of the Lord’s Passion. 

Assuring all in Mérida of his spiritual closeness, the Pope said he will remember them in a special way when he leads the Way of the Cross at Rome’s Colosseum as they participate in it at the Roman Amphitheater of Mérida with faithful from around the world.

Holy Week’s indelible mark

The Pope recalled how the Archdiocese of Mérida-Badajoz is celebrating a special year, the Eulalian Jubilee Year, which honors St Eulalia, the young martyr who helped make Mérida the cradle of Christianity in Spain and the destination of pilgrimages throughout history. 

Addressing the Confraternities who prepare the Holy Week celebrations, he encouraged them to ensure that the experience of Holy Week “leaves an indelible and permanent mark” on those who participate, reminding them that the re-enactment of Jesus’ Passion “is not a spectacle, but a proclamation of our salvation” and “for this reason it must leave its mark.” 

Love of God and neighbour

It is especially important during Holy Week to spend time devoted to prayer, listening to the Word of God, following the example of the Good Samaritan caring for our wounded sisters and brothers. Quoting from his Lenten Message for this year, the Pope said, “Love of God and love of neighbour are one love…In the presence of God, we become brothers and sisters, more sensitive to one another.”

Opening our hearts to others

Holy Week marks “a time of grace that the Lord gives us so that we may open the doors of our hearts” and our communities, the Pope recalls, and going out to meet Jesus and others, also to bring the light and joy of our faith. He encouraged everyone to go forth with love and with God’s tenderness, respect and patience, “knowing that we offer our hands, our feet, our hearts, but that it is God who guides us and shows us the way.” 

Prayer for families and those in need

Pope Francis concludes his message to the Fraternities of the ancient Spanish city with a special thought for families “who have a loved one who is ill,” for those who are alone, for those experiencing economic hardship, and finally for young people who can offer their talents now and in the future for the Fraternities of Mérida. – Vatican News