FROM the balcony of St. Peter's on Sunday morning, overlooking hundreds of thousands of the faithful jammed into the square below, Pope John XXIII proclaimed his Paschal wish to the world—"a happy and blessed Easter to you all!"—in 15 tongues, one after the other, including English, Russian, Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian, Ukranian, Crotian and Slovene.
The Eurovision network brought the scene and the Pope's blessing into millions of homes all over the continent and it was relayed to this country by the B.B.C.
But first the Holy Father delivered the full text of his Easter Message in Italian—a message of forgiveness and of hope. Near him, as he spoke, stood Scotland's Cardinal Heard. British viewers heard a translation of parts of the speech by Fr. Patrick McEnrne, who also described the scene. Later, Vatican Radio broadcast translations of the text in many languages.
Speaking of Our Lord as " the target of human wickedness, a point of contradiction during so many centuries, despised and rejected and always glorious and victorious", the Holy Father declared:
"Sometimes sadness seeks to invade our soul amidst the recurring disagreeable and terrifying actions of a great number of men who belong to human society— and by nature are our brothers— but towards whom our wish to be indulgent is nothing but a correct application of the last judgment and prayer of the dying Jesus: ' Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'
"Their disordered cries fill the cities and the fields; their threatening agitation disturbs and troubles those who love justice, liberty, a life of work, honourable, beneficent and tranquil. It is the same agitation which saddened the streets of Sion on the tragic eve of the death of Jesus . . . 'We do not want Him to reign over 119.' "
Referring to the rise and fall of nations over the past 2,000 years with all their vicissitudes, tears and blood, Pope John spoke of Our Lord's prophecy that He would be mocked, beaten and put to death, but that after three days He would rine again.
Sounding a note of triumphant hope., the Holy Father continued: And thus it happened; He rose again exactly after three days. In the last days of His sojourn here below. He spoke too of the final predictions about His Church: its tribulations, strife and struggles. likewise also most bloody.
"Yet Jesus continued: 'But I have overcome the world; 1 shall he with you even to the consummation of the world.'
" Oh, what liberating and blessed words the Holy Church reserves at Eastertide for her sons who are not forgetful of the joys and the innocence of their most beautiful years! 'I absolve you from your sins; and sin no more.'
Pope John concluded: " Risen again, all of us, through the grace of Jesus, who is perpetuated in nor spiritual life, let us take up again our good journey along the roads and amid the various circumstances in which Divine Providence has placed each and every one of us, always praising and blessing the Lord.
"And so, may you once again he pleased to receive the greetings which, as an expression of cordial intimacy, we wish to extend to you in your own languages, in order to emphasize more vividly, by means of radio and television, the common joy and the triumphal chorus of all believers in the Risen Christ."
On Maundy Thursday, the Holy' Father washed the feet of 13 seminary students of the Capranica College in the Basilica of St. John Lateran. They included Italians. two Americans, a Maltese, a Dutchman, a Spaniard and a Tunisian.
On Holy Saturday night, at mideight, the bells of the 447 churches of Rome broke their two-day silence with joyous peals to proclaim the Resurrection of Our Lord.
The first African from the seminary of Freetown and Bo. Sierra Leone, will be ordained this Sunday, April 9, by Bishop Brosnahan, C.S.Sp., bishop of the diocese.