VATICAN CITY, MAR 27, 2005 (VIS) - Pope John Paul II appeared at the window of his study shortly after noon today for the traditional "Urbi et orbi" message and blessing, but he did not speak, as hoped for by the estimated 80,000 faithful who filled St. Peter's Square, Via della Conciliazione, the broad avenue leading up to it, and adjacent streets. He waved several times and blessed the pilgrims as they applauded enthusiastically, cheered him and called out his name on a day marked by gray skies, intermittent rain and a splash of sun as the Pope came to his window.

Also for the first time in his 26-year papacy, the Pope, who is still recovering from his February 24 tracheotomy, did not preside at the Easter Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord in St. Peter's Square, designating instead Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, as the principal celebrant at the 10:30 a.m. liturgy in a square which was beautified, as has become traditional, by tens of thousands of multi-colored flowers, shrubs and flowering plants from Holland. The cardinal also read the Pope's Urbi et orbi (to the city and the world) message as John Paul II followed it, seated at the window.

The theme of the Holy Father's Easter message was taken from the words "Mane nobiscum, Domine" (Stay with us, Lord), the title of his apostolic letter which was published on October 8, 2004 for the start of the Year of the Eucharist. Just as the two disciples on the road to Emmaus asked the "mysterious Wayfarer," whom they did not immediately recognize as the Lord, to stay with them, the Pope today said: "On this Easter day, together with all Christians throughout the world, we too repeat these words: Jesus, Crucified and Risen, stay with us! Stay with us, faithful friend and sure support for humanity on its journey through history!... Bread of eternal life, nourish those who hunger for truth, freedom, justice and peace."

"Stay with us, Living Word of the Father, and teach us words and deeds of peace: peace for our world consecrated by your blood and drenched in the blood of so many innocent victims: peace for the countries of the Middle East and Africa, where so much blood continues to be shed; peace for all of humanity, still threatened by fratricidal wars. Stay with us, Bread of eternal life, broken and distributed to those at table: give also to us the strength to show generous solidarity towards the multitudes who are even today suffering and dying from poverty and hunger, decimated by fatal epidemics or devastated by immense natural disasters."

"We, the men and women of the third millennium, we too need you, Risen Lord! Stay with us now, and until the end of time. Grant that the material progress of peoples may never obscure the spiritual values which are the soul of their civilization. Sustain us, we pray, on our journey. In you do we believe, in you do we hope, for you alone have the words of eternal life. Mane nobiscum, Domine! Alleluia!"

At the end of Mass, a deacon announced that Pope John Paul granted his apostolic blessing and a plenary indulgence to all participants in today's liturgy, given that the usual conditions for such an indulgence are fulfilled. "May the Lord preserve the Pope for a long time as guide for the Church," prayed the deacon, "and grant peace and unity to the Church throughout the world."