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Pope joining faithful at Colosseum for Good Friday evening torch-lit cross procession in Rome

  • Italy Pope Good Friday-1.jpg

    Faithful attend the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession celebrated by Pope Francis in front of the Colosseum on Good Friday in Rome, Friday, April 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) (The Associated Press)

  • Italy Pope Good Friday-2.jpg

    Pope Francis leads the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession celebrated in front of the Colosseum on Good Friday in Rome, Friday, April 18, 2014. The evening Via Crucis procession at the ancient amphitheater is a Rome tradition that draws a large crowd of faithful, including many of the pilgrims who flock to the Italian capital for Holy Week ceremonies before Easter Sunday. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) (The Associated Press)

  • Italy Pope Good Friday-3.jpg

    Faithful attend the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession celebrated by Pope Francis in front of the Colosseum on Good Friday in Rome, Friday, April 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) (The Associated Press)

  • 4594a7db3978bb0f510f6a70670054c5.jpg

    Faithful attend the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession celebrated by Pope Francis in front of the Colosseum on Good Friday in Rome, Friday, April 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) (The Associated Press)

  • 277af7643974bb0f510f6a706700eb3d.jpg

    Pope Francis leads the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession celebrated in front of the Colosseum on Good Friday in Rome, Friday, April 18, 2014. The evening Via Crucis procession at the ancient amphitheater is a Rome tradition that draws a large crowd of faithful, including many of the pilgrims who flock to the Italian capital for Holy Week ceremonies before Easter Sunday. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis is presiding over a torch-lit Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum marking Good Friday in Rome.

The pope's resolve to focus the Catholic church's attention on those who suffer was reflected in meditations read aloud to commemorate Jesus' crucifixion.

Wearing a plain white cassock, Francis silently observed the nighttime procession as a male choir sang solemn hymns in the ancient Roman basilica.

Meditations prepared for the service reflected on victims of human trafficking, migrants who risk death trying to reach affluent nations, inmates in overcrowded prisons, the jobless and children whose health had been endangered by Italian mobsters illegally dumping toxic wastes in their neighborhoods and farmland.

In the streets near the Colosseum, tens of thousands of pilgrims, tourists and Romans clutched prayer books and candles.