Pope Francis has baptised 10 people and urged them to bring their faith “to the ends of the earth” as he presided over an Easter Vigil in St Peter’s Basilica.
The vigil is among the Vatican’s most solemn services.
The Pope entered the darkened basilica with a lone candle, which he then shared with others to slowly illuminate the church.
The symbolic service commemorates the darkness of the faithful over the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and their joy and light at his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
The Pope urged the priests, bishops, cardinals and ordinary Catholics gathered for the late night service to remember when they first found their faith.
“Do I remember it? Have I forgotten it? Look for it. You’ll find it. The Lord is waiting.”
Trying to remember isn’t an act of nostalgia but rather a way to bring the “fire” of faith “to all people, to the very ends of the earth”, he said.
After his homily, The Pope proceeded to baptise each of the 10, starting with Italian brothers Giorgio and Jacopo Capezzuoli, aged 8 and 10.
“Do you want to be baptised?” he asked each one as he smiled.
He asked the same of the adult converts, who hailed from Vietnam, Belarus, Senegal, Lebanon, Italy and France.
It was the second late night for the Pope after the long Good Friday Way of the Cross procession at Rome’s Colosseum.
The Pope, 77, will get a few hours of rest before celebrating Easter Sunday Mass in the flower-strewn St Peter’s Square.
He then has a week to prepare for the other major celebration of this year’s Easter season: the April 27 canonisations of Pope John XXIII and John Paul II.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend.