Pope Benedict XVI prayed the Regina coeli with the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square this Sunday – The Sunday of the Octave of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday. Listen to Chris Altieri's report:

In remarks ahead of the prayer, the Holy Father focused on the continuing celebrations of the season, saying, “Each year, celebrating Easter, we relive the experience of the first disciples of Jesus, the experience of meeting him Risen.” The Pope went on to say, “Christian worship is not just a commemoration of past events, or even a particular mystical, interior experience, but essentially an encounter with the Risen Lord,” adding that Christ is at once with God the Father, beyond time and space, and yet, really present to us all. “He speaks to us in Scripture,” he said, “and breaks for us the bread of eternal life.”

Pope Benedict said that through these signs we live what the disciples experienced, that is, seeing Jesus and at the same time not to recognize him – touching his body, a real body, yet free from earthly ties.

Christ’s greeting to the disciples in the upper room, as recorded in the Gospel according to St John: “Peace be with you,” was a special focus of the Holy Father’s remarks. “This traditional greeting,” he said, is in that scene transformed into something new. “It becomes the gift of peace that only Jesus can give,” said Pope Benedict, “because it is the fruit of his radical victory over evil. The “peace” that Jesus offers to his friends is the fruit of the love of God that led him to die on the cross, to pour out all of his blood in payment, as the meek and humble Lamb, “full of grace and truth.”

The Holy Father explained that this is the reason for which Blessed John Paul II desired to call this Sunday after Easter “Divine Mercy Sunday” - with an icon in mind: that of the pierced side of Christ, from which flow blood and water. But now Christ is risen, and from the Living Christ spring the Easter Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist: those who approach them with faith receive the gift of eternal life.

“Dear brothers and sisters,” said Pope Benedict, “Let us welcome the gift of peace that the risen Jesus offers us, let us fill our hearts with His mercy!” He concluded saying, “In this way, with the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead, we too can bring these Easter gifts to others. May Mary, Mother of Mercy, obtain these things for us.”

After the traditional Eastertide prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father had greetings for pilgims in many languages, including English:

I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present today. In today’s Gospel, Jesus appears to his disciples and overcomes the doubts of Thomas. Through his Divine Mercy, may we always believe that Jesus is the Christ and, believing, may we have life in his name. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.