Pope Francis will preside over Easter Vigil after skipping Good Friday at last minute, Vatican says


The Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis would lead the Easter Vigil service on Saturday night, after he decided at the last minute to skip participating in the Good Friday procession at the Colosseum out of health precautions.

The Vatican’s daily bulletin confirmed that Francis would lead the long vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the most solemn and important moments in the Catholic liturgical calendar. The service, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. local time and typically lasts two hours, commemorates the resurrection of Jesus and includes the sacrament of baptism for eight adult converts.

Francisco, 87, who had part of his lung removed when he was young, has been fighting respiratory problems throughout the winter that have made it difficult for him to speak at length.

He canceled some hearings and often asked an aide to read aloud some of his speeches. But he completely abandoned his Palm Sunday homily and decided at the last minute on Friday to stay home rather than preside over the Stations of the Cross procession at the Colosseum depicting the crucifixion of Christ.

The Vatican said in a brief explanation that the decision was made to “preserve his health” in view of the Saturday vigil and his even more demanding obligations on Easter Sunday. The Pope will preside over an Easter morning Mass in St. Peter’s Square and deliver his Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) address praying for an end to global crises.

APTOPIX Italy Pope Good Friday
Worshipers hold the cross as they take part in the Via Crucis torchlight procession at the Colosseum on Good Friday, in Rome, Friday, March 29, 2024.

Andrew Medichini / AP

While Francis also skipped the cold Good Friday procession last year because he was recovering from bronchitis, his sudden absence from the event this year raised concerns. His chair was in his place on the podium and his assistants were preparing for his arrival when the Vatican announced five minutes before the official start time that he would not be coming.

In addition to his breathing problems, Francis had a piece of his large intestine removed in 2021 and was hospitalized twice last year, even once to remove intestinal scar tissue from previous surgeries to treat diverticulosis or lumps in the intestinal wall. She has been using a wheelchair or cane for almost two years due to knee ligament problems.

In his recently published memoir, “Life: My Story Through History,” Francis said he is not suffering from any health problems that would force him to resign and that he still has “many projects to carry out.”


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