Pope Francis skips Good Friday service ‘to preserve his health’

 Pope Francis pulled out of a Good Friday service at the last
minute, with the Vatican saying this was done “to preserve his health” ahead of
major Easter engagements over the weekend.

 

Francis’ agenda for the next two days consists of an Easter
vigil service on Saturday evening, an Easter mass, and the delivery of his
twice-annual Urbi et Orbi (to the city and world) message and blessing on
Sunday morning.

 

The Pope was billed to preside over the procession that
marks the beginning of the Easter weekend. Just as the event was about to begin
however, 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,” the statement reads.

Officials, however, said the pontiff had presided over the
Celebration of the Passion of the Lord at St Peter’s Basilica earlier in the
day.

 

The 87-year-old has been battling ill health for months. In
recent weeks, he has had aides read out several of his speeches.

 

Francis also missed the procession in 2023 — for the first
time since becoming pope in 2013. At the time, it had only been about a week
since he had been released from hospital after undergoing treatment for
bronchitis.