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Pope carries Easter candle up aisle of darkened basilica

Pope Francis has carried a lit candle up the main aisle of a darkened St. Peter's Basilica in a dramatic Saturday Easter vigil ritual.

The pontiff, prelates and other faithful also clutching candles appeared as slow-moving points of light in darkness, part of a procession symbolizing Christians' belief that Jesus triumphed over death by resurrection following crucifixion.

At the chant in Latin for "light of Christ, the basilica's lights were suddenly switched on. Francis then reached the central altar to celebrate Easter Vigil Mass.

Pope Francis holds a candle as he presides over a solemn Easter vigil ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, April 21, 2019. (AP PhotoGregorio Borgia)

Among those attending the service were eight people who prepared to be baptized by the pope. The Vatican said these new faithful are from Italy, Albania, Ecuador, Indonesia and Peru.

On Sunday, Francis celebrates Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square and gives a speech from the basilica balcony.