Pope Francis, who was released from hospital last weekend after a bout of bronchitis, will skip Friday night’s outdoor “Via Crucis” procession due to cold weather, the Vatican said in a statement.
The 86-year-old pontiff will continue to attend an indoor Good Friday service at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in response to a question from Reuters.
It is the first time that the Pope will not preside over the ‘Via Crucis’ service since he was elected in 2013. The event was moved to the Vatican during the COVID-19 pandemic and was held in reduced versions, but Francis presided over it.
The Vatican said Francis would follow the service, which typically lasts more than two hours and is attended by thousands, from his residence.
The temperature in Rome was expected to be around 10 degrees Celsius (50 F) on Friday night. The temperature has dropped in recent days and on Thursday a light snow fell on the outskirts of Rome.
TODAY (April 7): The pontiff, who was recently treated in hospital for bronchitis, will continue to attend the celebration of the Passion in St. Peter’s Basilica
Instead of leading the torchlight procession at the Colosseum, Francis will watch from the Vatican hotel where he lives.
During the traditional service, the Pope sits in the open air near the upper section of the Colosseum while participants parade around the ancient monument.
Participants stop to pray and listen to meditations at the 14 ‘Stations of the Cross’, which commemorate the events of the last hours of Jesus’ life, beginning with his arrest and ending with his burial.
Francis spent four days in hospital last week for treatment for bronchitis after complaining of difficulty breathing. She made a quick recovery after receiving antibiotics.
The pope, who appeared well at two Thursday services, usually speaks at the end of the Good Friday procession at the Coliseum.
The Vatican did not announce any changes to the rest of the pope’s Easter calendar.
He will preside over an Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday night in St. Peter’s Basilica and on Easter Sunday he will deliver his blessing and message twice a year ‘Urbi et Orbi’ (to the city and the world) in St. Peter’s Basilica . Peter’s Square.
The Easter Sunday blessing takes place from the exterior central balcony of the basilica at noon.
The last Pope to skip a Good Friday service was Pope John Paul II. Ill health prevented her from leaving the Vatican in the last weeks of his life in 2005.
Pope Francis greets the crowd before the Chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, April 6, 2023.
Pope Francis celebrates the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Casal del Marmo juvenile prison on April 6, 2023
On April 6, Pope Francis kicked off the four intense days leading up to Easter, renewing vows and urging priests to avoid fomenting division in the Church.
On Holy Thursday, Francis and dozens of cardinals and bishops, and some 1,880 priests, met in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, to renew the commitments they made at their ordination.
The Pope then went to the Casal del Marmo juvenile prison, on the outskirts of the city.where he washed and kissed the feet of 12 young inmates in a gesture meant to commemorate Jesus’ humility towards his apostles the night before his death.
It comes after his health has drawn increasing scrutiny since his predecessor, Benedict XVI, became the first pontiff to step down as Vatican chief as a result of ill-health in 2013.
Benedict died on December 31, 2022, and since then Francis has been open to following his predecessor’s example and leaving the papacy if his health continues to deteriorate.
The 86-year-old’s hospitalization in March 2023 with a bout of pneumonia has reignited speculation that Francis might soon resign.
He was taken to Rome’s Gemelli hospital after a weekly general audience on March 29 after he had difficulty leaving the event and experienced shortness of breath.
It was reported that he was battling a respiratory infection before doctors established that he had contracted a mild case of pneumonia.
Medical staff said he would remain in hospital for several days and receive appropriate treatment, though they hoped to discharge him before the Vatican’s busy Easter schedule.
But Francis is particularly susceptible to respiratory infections, due to complications from a serious condition he contracted when he was 20 years old.