Pope Francis skips Good Friday event to preserve health

Pope Francis' chair is seen prior to the start of the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) in front of the Colosseum on Good Friday, in Rome, Friday, March 29, 2024.
Pope Francis' chair is seen prior to the start of the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) in front of the Colosseum on Good Friday, in Rome, Friday, March 29, 2024. Copyright Andrew Medichini/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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Francis had been expected to preside over the Way of the Cross procession, but cancelled for the second year in a row over health concerns.

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Pope Francis skipped the traditional Good Friday procession at Rome’s Colosseum to protect his health, the Vatican said.

The last-minute decision has added to concerns about his frail condition during the busy period.

Francis had been expected to preside over the Way of the Cross procession, which re-enacts Christ’s Passion and crucifixion, and composed meditations that are read aloud at each station. But just as the event was about to begin, the Vatican announced that Francis was following the event from his home at the Vatican.

“To conserve his health in view of the vigil tomorrow and Mass on Easter Sunday, Pope Francis will follow the Via Crucis at the Colosseum this evening from the Casa Santa Marta,” a statement from the Vatican press office said.

The Vatican's Press Office posted on X that Pope Francis prayed from his residence rather than the Colosseum to "preserve his health."

While Francis had also skipped the event in 2023 because he was recovering from bronchitis and it was a cold night, his decision to stay home this year suggested his plans had changed suddenly.

87-year-old Francis, who had part of one lung removed as a young man, has been battling what he and the Vatican have described as a case of the flu, bronchitis or a cold all winter long. 

For the last several weeks he has occasionally asked an aide to read aloud his speeches, and he skipped his Palm Sunday homily altogether.

On Saturday, he is scheduled to preside over a lengthy evening Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s, one of the most solemn events in the liturgical calendar. 

He is also due to preside over Easter Sunday Mass in the piazza and deliver his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) speech rounding up global crises and threats to humanity.

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