The Vatican is preparing for a candle-lit vigil mass as Roman Catholics around the world anxiously await the ailing Pope John Paul's Easter Sunday blessing to the world.
Thousands of pilgrims are expected in Saint Peter's Basilica today (Saturday) to observe Holy Saturday ceremonies and to pray for the 84-year old pontiff.
The pontiff, who is recovering from throat surgery, will not participate in the vigil, but will preside over the Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) Easter blessing on Sunday.
For the first time in his 26-year papacy, the pope, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, has not been able to preside over Holy Week events.
In a message read at a Good Friday re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus at Rome's Colosseum, Pope John Paul said he was spiritually with the pilgrims attending the ceremony.