After a bleak week in Europe, pope to offer message of hope

Pope Francis prays during the celebration of the Lord's Passion, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Friday, March 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is set to preside over a solemn vigil service to usher in the hope-filled Easter celebrations after a dark week in Europe.

Francis will baptize 12 adults during the Easter Vigil on Saturday night in St. Peter’s Basilica. A few hours later he’ll preside over Easter Sunday Mass and offer his annual Easter blessing.

Francis is expected to offer a message of hope following his bleak condemnations on Good Friday of the attacks in Brussels and elsewhere by Islamic extremists.

During remarks at the Colosseum capping the “Way of the Cross” procession re-enacting Jesus’ crucifixion, Francis denounced the “terrorist acts committed by followers of some religions which profane the name of God and which use the holy name to justify their unprecedented violence.”

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