Easter: Pope Francis celebrates service, won’t join Way of the Cross

Pope Francis
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Pope Francis celebrated the Good Friday service “The Passion and Death of the Lord” in St Peter’s Basilica but was not going to join the Way of the Cross, as initially planned.

He officially presided over the celebration, but the sermon was given by Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, the official preacher of the papal household.

St Peter’s Basilica was well attended for the Good Friday celebration to commemorate the death of Jesus Christ through crucifixion.

The pontiff, dressed in a red robe, was in a wheelchair as he reached St Peter’s, due to a serious knee condition.

He also refrained from lying down and praying before the altar at the start of the liturgy, the customary sign of reverence and prostration before God.

Instead, Francis remained in silent prayer for a few moments.

Later, the traditional Stations of the Cross are to be celebrated at the Colosseum in Rome, with the ceremony centring on conflict around the world.

Two young people from Ukraine and Russia were due to take part, the Holy See said on Friday.

However, the pontiff decided at short notice not to take part in the procession due to the unusually cold weather at present.

Instead, he is to join the prayers from the Vatican.

Temperatures in Rome were expected to be around 10 degrees Celsius the evening, which is cooler than normal for the season.

Francis was only released from hospital last week after receiving treatment for bronchitis for three days.

A day after he was discharged, he presided at Palm Sunday Mass in St Peter’s Square but has occasionally been seen coughing during public appearances in recent days.

In the evening, the service at 9:15 pm (1715 GMT) will remember Jesus Christ’s suffering and death.

Good Friday is part of what is known as Holy Week, starting off with Palm Sunday and leading through to Easter Sunday.

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