Pope Francis, who is recovering from bronchitis and last week spent three nights in hospital, will not attend the traditional “Way of the Cross” prayer service on Good Friday, the Vatican said.
It will be the first time that Francis, 86, has missed the annual service, which falls two days before Easter — Christianity’s most important holiday — in the 10 years of his papacy.
“Due to the intense cold of the past days, Pope Francis will follow this evening’s Way of the Cross from Casa Santa Marta, joining the prayer of those who will gather with the Diocese of Rome at the Colosseum,” the Vatican said in a short statement.
Santa Marta is the Argentine pontiff’s residence within the Vatican.
An unusual cold streak in Rome has seen night-time temperatures fall to 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) this week.
Christians commemorate Good Friday as the day Jesus Christ died on the cross.
The Way of the Cross service commemorates the 14 stations of Jesus’ suffering and death, from his condemnation to his burial. The open-air procession, which begins at 1900 GMT, takes place outside the Coliseum.
Francis was discharged from a Rome hospital on April 1 after a three-night stay for a bronchial infection. The pontiff has suffered increasing health issues in recent years, and it was his second stay in hospital since 2021.