Pope presides over Easter Vigil service after skipping Good Friday procession – EVOL

Pope Francis presided over the Vatican’s somber Easter Vigil service on Saturday night, a day after making the last-minute decision to skip his participation in the Good Friday procession at the Colosseum as a health precaution.

Francis entered the darkened, silent St Peter’s Basilica in his wheelchair, took his place in a chair and offered an opening prayer, sounding somewhat congested and out of breath.

The Vatican had said Francis skipped the Good Friday procession to ensure his participation in the vigil service Saturday night, which usually lasts about two hours, and Easter Sunday Mass a few hours later.

The 87-year-old pope, who had part of one lung removed as a young man, has been battling respiratory problems all winter that have made it difficult for him to speak at length. He and the Vatican have said he has had bronchitis, a cold or the flu.

Francis has cancelled some audiences and often asked an aide to read aloud some of his speeches. But the alarm was raised when he ditched his Palm Sunday homily altogether last week and then decided not to preside over the Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum.

The Vatican said in a brief explanation that the decision was



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