The pontiff, in his homily, on Saturday evening said that refugees and migrants, along with the poor and socially marginalised, have their "human dignity crucified" in various ways each day, urging the Christian faithful to maintain their hope, as symbolized by Christ's resurrection.
Francis also said that "human injustices" such as slavery, people trafficking, corruption and bureaucracy inflict suffering and damage the dignity of many around the world.
The ceremony, one of the most important in the Catholic tradition, symbolises the darkness after Jesus' crucifixion and the light that permeated the world with his resurrection.
The ceremony began at 8.30 p.m., and lasted over three hours, during which a number of people were baptised and received communion.
Francis will continue with the rites of Holy Week on Easter Sunday by presiding at the Mass of the Resurrection in St. Peter's, after which he will deliver his regular Easter message and give the traditional "Urbi et Orbi" blessing from the central balcony of the basilica.
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