Today is Easter Monday – Little Easter or Pasquetta – and is also known here as Monday of the Angel, a big holiday throughout much of Europe. Today is also the penultimate day of vacation time for Vatican and Roman Curia staff. The Easter holidays start Holy Thursday and go through the Tuesday after Easter for most people at the Vatican. However, the various Vatican media offices and the Secretariat of State have at least a skeleton crew on hand over the holidays, whereas the office of the liturgical ceremonies of the Supreme Pontiff was kept quite busy throughout Holy Week and Easter Sunday.

On April 9, 2012, Easter Monday, Pope Benedict recited the Regina Coeli, the prayer that takes the place of the Angelus during Eastertime, from the apostolic palace in Castelgandolfo.  He reflected on the Resurraction and why this day is known Monday of the Angel.

The weather three years ago was much as it is today, a clear sunny day that brought considerably cooler temperatures and a brisk breeze to central Italy. And three years ago, thousands of faithful joined the Pope in the palace’s inner courtyard as well as in the town’s main square, just outside the palace main entrance. Italians typically dedicate Easter Monday to family outings, most often celebrating a picnic meal at midday.

Recalling that the real reason for this holiday is the Resurrection of Our Lord, Pope Benedict began his reflections by noting that the Gospel writers do not describe the Resurrection itself. “That event remains mysterious – not as something unreal, but as something beyond the reach of our knowledge – as a light so bright the eyes cannot bear it.”

He explained that the Gospel narration begins with the morning after the sabbath when the women run to the sepulchre, find it empty and hear an angel tell them the Lord has risen. As they run in turn to tell the disciples, they meet Jesus.

The Holy Father went on to note that, “In those days, in Israel, women’s testimony could have no official legal value.” Nevertheless, “women have experienced a special bond with the Lord, that is fundamental to the day-to-day life of the Christian community, and this is always true, in every age, not only at the beginning of the Church’s pilgrim journey.” Benedict XVI stressed how, “in all the Gospels, women play a big role in the stories of the appearance of the resurrected Jesus, like the rest, and also in the passion and death of Jesus.”


Easter Monday at noon, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to recite the Regina Coeli. He told the pilgrims that, “Faith in the resurrection of Jesus and the hope He has brought to us is the most beautiful gift that a Christian can and must offer his brothers and sisters.”


“To one and all,” he said, “never tire of repeating: Christ is risen.” He then urged the crowd – three times . to reèpeat that phtrase with him – which they did with great gusto! he urged the crowd, inviting them to repeat the phrase with him three times in the Square.

Pope Francis said, the Good News of the Resurrection should “shine on our face, in our feelings and in our behaviour, in the way in which we treat others. We proclaim the Resurrection of Christ when his light illuminates the dark moments of our existence, and we are able share it with others; when we know when to smile with those who smile, and weep with those who weep; when we accompany those who are sad and at risk of losing hope; when we recount our experience of Faith to those who are searching for meaning and happiness,”

He also mentioned what he called the “curious truth” that the Liturgy treats the entire Octave – eight days – of Easter as one day, to “help us enter into the mystery” of the feast. “Let our lives be conquered and transformed by the Resurrection,” he said.

After praying the Regina Coeli, in greetings to the Shalom Community, the Holy Father expressed his hope that the international community does not look on, “silent and inactive,” in the face of the “unacceptable crime” of the persecution of Christians around the world.

He told the group who had organized a relay in Rome of solidarity with persecuted Christians.  “Your itinerary on the streets is over, but what must continue on the part of all is the spiritual journey of prayer, intense prayer; the concrete participation and tangible help in the defense and protection of our brothers and sisters, who are persecuted, exiled, killed, beheaded, for the sole reason of being a Christian. They are our martyrs today and they are many; we are able to say that they are more numerous than in the first centuries.”

“I sincerely hope that the international community does not look the other way,” he added.


No, I’m not in Vienna but a good friend of mine, Isabella, lives there and several days  ago she sent me some great photos taken with her cell phone as she was strolling through Austria’s historic and magnificent capital with its festive and colorful Easter markets.  I never knew of this splendid custom and am delighted to share her pictures.

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I wanted to know more about Vienna’s Easter markets so I naturally went on line. I found the following at http://www.wien.info/en/shopping-wining-dining/markets/easter-markets

Traditional Easter decorations and artfully decorated eggs, culinary treats and a program of music await you at Vienna’s Easter markets in March and April. There’s all sorts of entertainment for young visitors to the markets.

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The Easter market in front of Schönbrunn Palace is considered to be one of the most romantic Easter markets. In front of the backdrop of the palace, 60 exhibitors offer all sorts of culinary pleasures as well as decorative Easter decorations and handicrafts from Austria. Children have fun in the Easter Bunny workshop, where they shape marzipan bunnies and make Easter flower arrangements, in the Easter nest hunt and in the Kindermuseum, while the adults enjoy the entertainment at “Jazz at the Easter Market”.

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Every year, the Old Viennese Easter market on Freyung, a pretty old square in the Old City, builds the biggest tower of eggs in Europe, with around 40,000 painted Easter eggs. There are also numerous Easter specialties ranging from the Osterpinze Easter bread to the roast Easter lamb, handicrafts, floristry and for the very little ones a creative Easter workshop, puppet games and a rabbit hutch.

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The handicraft market on Am Hof square is also fully given over to Easter customs with skilfully decorated eggs and flower arrangements and also offers pretty handicrafts.

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An entertaining Easter party awaits visitors young and old on Easter Sunday on 5 April in the Prater. There’s live music, an Easter parade and a colorful children’s program with theater and a thrilling magic show.