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Holy Chrism Mass

On Holy Thursday before Easter Sunday, the Chrism Mass is held in every Catholic diocese. This special Mass serves two major purposes. The first is the blessing of the Holy Oils by the diocese bishop (in this case the highest bishop in the church, Pope Francis) for use in the coming year. These are: Oil of the Sick, Oil of Catechumens, and the Sacred Chrism. The oils are contained in the three large silver containers at the altar. The second is the renewal of the vows and commitments to the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church.

Header image for “Holy Ground: Catholic Pilgrimages to Rome”

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African Nuns

A group of African nuns wait in line to attend the Holy Thursday Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican in Rome, Italy.

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Priests Attend Mass

A group of priests wait in line to attend the Holy Thursday Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican in Rome, Italy.

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The Crucifixion

A large Crucifix hangs on a dark red curtain on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

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Nuns at St. Peter’s

A group of nuns enter St. Peter’s Basilica to attend the Holy Thursday Mass in the Vatican in Rome, Italy.

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Swiss Guard Keeping Watch

The Papal Swiss Guard serve as the official military to the Pope and the Vatican City. One of the oldest military units in the world, the Swiss Guard was established in 1506 as a mercenary unit under Pope Julius II. It has been cited that the inspiration for the uniforms comes from a painting by Michelangelo.

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Vatican Workers

A pair of Vatican workers fill vials with what looks to be Holy Water before Holy Thursday Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica

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Swiss Guard Keeping Watch

The Papal Swiss Guard serve as the official military to the Pope and the Vatican City. One of the oldest military units in the world, the Swiss Guard was established in 1506 as a mercenary unit under Pope Julius II. It has been cited that the inspiration for the uniforms comes from a painting by Michelangelo.

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Nun and Holy Water

A Nun walks past a large sculpture used to hold Holy Water.

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Priests Enter the Mass

Priests enter St. Peter’s Basilica for the Holy Thursday Mass, the Thursday before Easter Sunday begins.

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Priests Enter the Mass

Priests enter St. Peter’s Basilica for the Holy Thursday Mass, the Thursday before Easter Sunday begins.

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Watching the Procession

A man watches the procession of Priests that file into St. Peter’s Basilica for Holy Thursday Mass.

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Watching the Procession

A nun watches the procession of Priests that file into St. Peter’s Basilica for Holy Thursday Mass.

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Watching the Procession

Curious onlookers watch the events of the Holy Thursday Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica unfold. Some are faithful Catholics and some are tourists.

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Watching the Procession

Curious onlookers watch the events of the Holy Thursday Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica unfold. Some are faithful Catholics and some are tourists.

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Sign of the Cross

A Priest makes the Sign of the Cross during the Holy Thursday Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. The Sign of the Cross is required during certain points in the Mass, as it prepares the individual to receive grace and makes possible for the one to cooperate with it.

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Following the Liturgy

A couple follow along during the Holy Thursday Mass with the official liturgical booklet provided to all attenders. Catholic services follow a liturgical calendar, so that the Mass reading is the same on any given Mass around the world, including this special Easter Mass presided over by Pope Francis.

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Holy Thursday Mass

St. Peter’s Basilica during Holy Thursday Mass.

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A Monk at Mass

A monk attends Holy Thursday Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

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A Priest’s Glance

A priest glances upward to see the ornate ceiling of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican during the Holy Thursday Mass.

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