How Is Good Friday Celebrated in Rome?

By Alice Nichols

Good Friday is a significant day in the Christian calendar, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In Rome, the capital city of Italy, this solemn occasion is marked with various religious customs and traditions. Let’s delve into how Good Friday is celebrated in Rome.

Religious Processions

One of the most important aspects of Good Friday in Rome is the religious processions that take place throughout the city. These processions are led by priests and members of religious orders, often carrying a statue or crucifix depicting Jesus on his way to Calvary. The procession typically starts from a church and winds its way through the streets, with participants singing hymns and reciting prayers.

The Way of the Cross

A key event during these processions is the Stations of the Cross, also known as “Via Crucis” in Italian. This involves retracing Jesus’ final journey from his condemnation to his crucifixion and burial. In Rome, one of the most famous Stations of the Cross takes place at the Colosseum, where thousands gather to witness this powerful reenactment.

Church Services

Throughout Good Friday, churches in Rome hold special services to commemorate Jesus’ sacrifice. These services often include readings from the Bible, reflections on Jesus’ suffering and death, and prayers for redemption. The atmosphere inside these churches is somber and reflective, with dimmed lights and minimal decorations.

Adoration of the Cross

One notable aspect of Good Friday services in Rome is the Adoration of the Cross. During this ritual, a cross or crucifix is unveiled before worshippers who approach it one by one to kiss or touch it as a sign of veneration for Jesus’ sacrifice. This act symbolizes humility and gratitude for his ultimate act of love.

Visiting the Seven Churches

A popular tradition on Good Friday in Rome is the “Seven Churches Visitation,” also known as “Visita alle Sette Chiese” in Italian. This practice involves visiting seven different churches to reflect on Jesus’ journey and pray at each location. The seven churches typically include the Basilica of St. John Lateran, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

  • Tip: Wear comfortable shoes and plan your route ahead of time to make the most of this spiritual pilgrimage.

Traditional Meals

After a day of solemn observance, many Romans gather with family and friends for a traditional meal on Good Friday. While meat is traditionally avoided on this day, fish dishes are popular choices, such as baccalà (salted cod) or fried seafood platters. This meal provides an opportunity for loved ones to come together and share in both food and fellowship.

The Sweet Tradition

No Italian celebration is complete without sweets, and Good Friday is no exception. In Rome, it is customary to enjoy a special dessert called “Colomba di Pasqua” or Easter Dove Cake. Shaped like a dove, symbolizing peace and resurrection, this sweet bread-like cake is often topped with almonds and sugar glaze.

Good Friday in Rome combines religious devotion with cultural traditions, creating a meaningful experience for both locals and visitors alike. Whether witnessing the processions or participating in church services, this day allows individuals to reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice while immersing themselves in the rich history of Rome.