Pope skips Good Friday event to ‘conserve his health’ ahead of Easter, Vatican says

Pope Francis presides the Passion of the Lord mass on Good Friday as part of the Holy Week celebrations, at St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on March 29, 2024. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP) (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)

ROME — In order to preserve his health, the Vatican said Pope Francis did not attend a Good Friday event.

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The pontiff skipped a Good Friday procession at the Colosseum, according to Reuters. It was the first time Francis, 87, skipped the traditional event in his 11-year papacy, The Associated Press reported.

St. John Paul II skipped the same event before his death in 2005, according to the AP.

“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, according to the AP.

He recently also skipped delivering the traditional homily on Palm Sunday to kick off the Catholic faith’s Holy Week last Sunday. However, Francis presided over the service, speaking before and after the scheduled homily in a clear voice, The New York Times reported.

Francis was hospitalized in late February for the flu. For more than a year, he had been using a wheelchair and a walker because of strained ligaments in his knee.

The pontiff had surgery for intestinal blockage in June 2023. That came two years after Francis had 13 inches of his colon removed because of a narrowing of his large intestine.

He was hospitalized for five days at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital in late March 2023 with a lung infection.

Francis had part of one lung removed when he was younger.

He was elected the 266th pope in history on March 13, 2013, after the surprising resignation of Pope Benedict XVI two weeks earlier.

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