Pope Francis celebrates service, abstains from 'way of the cross'

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis celebrated the Good Friday service “The Passion and Death of the Lord” in St Peter’s Basilica but he did not 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 was celebrated at the Colosseum in Rome, with the ceremony centering on conflict around the world.

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Two young people from Ukraine and Russia were due to take part.

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

Instead, he joined the prayers from the Vatican.

Francis was only released from a 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.

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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