Pope Francis has carried the Easter candle up the aisle of the darkened St Peter’s Basilica before celebrating the vigil mass

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Pope Francis has led the world’s Roman Catholics into Easter at a vigil mass in St Peter’s Basilica, urging the faithful to live not for transient things like wealth and success but for God.

largest church in Christendom was dark at the start of the long service on Saturday night as the Pope carved into a candle the numbers of the year 2019 and the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet – Alpha and Omega – signifying that God is the beginning and end of all things. The pontiff, prelates, and other faithful also clutching candles appeared as slow-moving points of light in darkness, part of a procession symbolising Christians’ belief that Jesus triumphed over death by resurrection following crucifixion. At the chant in Latin for “light of Christ”, the basilica’s lights were suddenly switched on. Francis then reached the central altar to celebrate Easter Vigil Mass. Among those attending the service on Easter Saturday were eight people who prepared to be baptised by the pope.

“God takes away even the hardest stones against which our hopes and expectations crash: death, sin, fear, worldliness,” he said.

“There is another stone that often seals the heart shut: the stone of sin. Sin seduces; it promises things easy and quick, prosperity and success, but then leaves behind only solitude and death. Sin is looking for life among the dead, for the meaning of life in things that pass away,” he said. During the mass, Francis welcomed eight adult converts into the church, conferring on them the sacraments of baptism and confirmation. They were from Italy, Albania, Ecuador, Indonesia and Peru. On Sunday, the 82-year-old leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Roman Catholics is due to say a mass in St Peter’s Square and read the traditional Urbi et Orbi (To The City and The World) message.

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