Pope Will Miss Good Friday Procession Because of Cold Weather


Pope Francis won’t attend the traditional Good Friday “Way of the Cross” procession because of cold weather in Rome, the Vatican said in a statement.

It will be the first time that Francis has missed the Good Friday Via Crucis at Rome’s Colosseum since he became pope, but the news came as little surprise as winterlike temperatures returned to Italy this week.

Francis, 86, was recently in the hospital for treatment of bronchitis, and was discharged less than a week ago. The Vatican had said at the time that the pontiff would take part in all the Holy Week celebrations, but as temperatures descended to about 10 degrees Celsius in Rome, and light snow fell in parts of the country, his participation in the procession, which commemorates the last moments of Jesus’ life, seemed more uncertain.

In interviews with the Italian press, medical experts had warned that, in the case of heavy rain or intense cold, it might be more sensible to keep the pontiff indoors, especially in the evening.

The service begins at 9:15 p.m., and the pope usually sits outdoors overlooking the Colosseum, while the faithful walk around the monument for the 14 stations of the procession for more than an hour. The Vatican said that Francis would be following the service from his residence, Casa Santa Marta.

Francis has kept up his busy schedule since leaving the hospital, and has appeared to be in good health, except for sporadic coughing, and he sometimes uses his cane or wheelchair — as he has since a knee ailment intensified. He has combined his usual meetings and the audience in St. Peter’s Square with the Holy Week’s celebrations.

On Thursday, he traveled to a jail on Rome’s outskirts where he washed and dried the feet of a dozen juvenile inmates in a Holy Thursday ritual. He chose the same facility that he went to 10 years ago, during his first Easter as pope, reflecting his interest in marginalized people.

Francis poured water onto the feet of 10 male and two female residents serving time at the facility, including a Muslim from Senegal and youngsters from Romania, Russia and Croatia. The pontiff then dried their feet with a white towel and kissed them.

“Any of us can slip,” Francis told the inmates. “Any of us.”

In his brief homily, he explained that the awareness that anyone can fall into sin gives dignity to everyone, and that the washing ritual was not folklore. Rooted in the ancient habit of washing feet that had walked on dusty roads before entering a home, the gesture symbolized a society where people help each other.

“It is very beautiful to help each other, to give a hand,” he said. “These are human universal gestures that are born from a noble heart.”

On Friday afternoon, Francis presided over the Good Friday service inside St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Vatican hasn’t announced any further modifications to his schedule, which includes an indoor Easter vigil Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) blessing and message after Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Easter Sunday.

Source : Nytimes