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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 April 2007, 00:02 GMT 01:02 UK
Pope celebrates Easter Vigil Mass
Pope Benedict celebrates the Easter Vigil Mass
The Pope addressed pilgrims during the three-hour service
Pope Benedict has celebrated the first mass of Easter inside St Peter's Basilica in Rome before a crowd of over 10,000 pilgrims.

The Pontiff told worshippers love was stronger than evil and death in his homily at the Easter Vigil Mass.

On Sunday, he will lead a second mass in the open air before a much larger congregation in St Peter's Square and deliver his traditional Easter message.

Pope Benedict, 79, is celebrating the second Easter of his pontificate.

The mass began with the Pope lighting a single large white candle in the almost darkened basilica.

The light from this candle was then used to kindle thousands of other candles and the basilica gradually became flooded with light symbolising the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Church in Asia

In the course of the service Pope Benedict baptised eight new members of the Church, including women from China and Japan.

The BBC's David Willey in Rome says that the accent on this year's Easter celebrations in Rome has been on the Catholic church in Asia and particularly China.

Although the number of Catholics in Asia is tiny in relation to those in the other continents of the world, the Vatican regards Asia as its most promising area for future converts.

The Pope is preparing a message to the Catholic church in China which will be published in a few weeks' time, our correspondent adds.

Although the government in Beijing still refuses to recognise the authority of the Pope over the so-called Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church and the authority of the Pope to appoint new bishops in China, relations between Rome and Beijing are less tense than for many years.


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