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Pope skips Good Friday procession due to cold weather

Refugees from various war-torn countries, from Ukraine to Syria, from Iraq to numerous African countries, carry the cross during the ceremony
Refugees from various war-torn countries, from Ukraine to Syria, from Iraq to numerous African countries, carry the cross during the ceremony - Copyright AFP MOHAMMED ABED
Refugees from various war-torn countries, from Ukraine to Syria, from Iraq to numerous African countries, carry the cross during the ceremony - Copyright AFP MOHAMMED ABED

Pope Francis, who is recovering from bronchitis and last week spent three nights in hospital, did not attend the traditional “Way of the Cross” prayer service on Good Friday, the Vatican said.

Some 20,000 people took part in the ceremony at the Colosseum in Rome, which was dedicated to victims of conflict, with a young Ukrainian and a young Russian praying for peace and brotherhood.

It was the first time that Francis, 86, has missed the annual service, which falls two days before Easter — Christianity’s most important holiday — in the 10 years of his papacy.

“Due to the intense cold of the past days, Pope Francis will follow this evening’s Way of the Cross from Casa Santa Marta, joining the prayer of those who will gather with the Diocese of Rome at the Colosseum,” the Vatican said in a short statement.

Santa Marta is the Argentine pontiff’s residence within the Vatican.

An unusual cold snap in Rome has seen night-time temperatures fall to 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) this week.

Christians commemorate Good Friday as the day Jesus Christ died on the cross.

The Way of the Cross service commemorates the 14 stations of Jesus’s suffering and death, from his condemnation to his burial. 

Francis was discharged from a Rome hospital on April 1 after a three-night stay for a bronchial infection. The pontiff has suffered increasing health issues in recent years, and it was his second stay in hospital since 2021.

Ahead of the Way of the Cross, Francis presided over the celebration of the Passion of the Lord within St Peter’s Basilica Friday afternoon, arriving in a wheelchair.

The pope has participated in various events since his hospital release, including washing the feet of 12 young prisoners on Holy Thursday.

On Sunday, he is expected to lead Easter mass at St Peter’s Square.

AFP
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