| POPE BAPTIZES 8 PERSONS DURING JUBILEE EASTER VIGIL
A 5-year Old Japanese Girl Made Him Smile Several Times
VATICAN CITY, APR 23 (ZENIT.org).- Eight catechumens were baptized and confirmed by
John Paul II, during the luminous Jubilee Easter Vigil in St. Peter's Square. They ranged in age
from 5 to 40, and came from Japan, China, Cameroon, Albania and Italy. At the end of the
ceremony, they received their First Communion from the Pontiff's hands. Given the
extraordinary number of pilgrims, this was the first time a Pope has celebrated this all important
Christian feast outside the Basilica.
The Holy Father encouraged the new Catholics, who would become "intimate sharers in the
mystery of the love of God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit," to make of their life "a song of
praise to the Most Holy Trinity, and a witness of love that knows no bounds."
The Vigil began with the blessing of the Paschal fire at the foot of the obelisk in St. Peter's
Square, witness of St. Peter's martyrdom in Nero's circus. The Paschal candle was moved
forward, in the silence of the night, until it arrived in the atrium of St. Peter's Basilica, shedding its
light along with that of thousands of candles being carried by pilgrims.
"At the Easter Vigil, 'the mother of all vigils,' everyone can likewise acknowledge their own
personal history of salvation, which has its basic moment in our rebirth in Christ through
Baptism," the Holy Father said, explaining the reason he administered Baptism to the new
Christians, among whom was a darling 5-year old Japanese girl. She was baptized along with
her parents. Several times during the ceremony, she made the Holy Father smile. In the last 4
days, John Paul II has presided over close to 20 hours of celebrations.
At the end of the Vigil, when the catechumens went to greet the Pope, he kissed the little radiant
Japanese girl twice, in the presence of her overwhelmed young parents. The other baptized
included a 30-year-old man from Cameroon, a 38-year-old Italian, and a 30-year-old Albanian.
Particularly significant was the baptism of two Chinese, Peter Cong Shen, 28, and Elena Hong
Ye, 38, not only because of the difficult situation of the Church in China and the Holy Father's
hope to visit that country, but also because of the stressful circumstances faced by Chinese
immigrants in Italy, who must often deal with a type of mafia, which controls some communities
of the diaspora. Some underground workshops oblige them to work in inhuman conditions.
The open-air celebration in the dead of night implicitly underlined the cosmic character of Jesus'
Resurrection. "Yes, Christ is truly risen and we are witnesses of this," the Pope exclaimed. "We
proclaim this witness to the world, so that the joy, which is ours, will reach countless other
hearts, kindling in them the light of the hope that does not disappoint."