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Pope Francis overcomes health concerns, presides over blustery Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square

Pope Francis overcame concerns about his health to preside over Easter Sunday mass, leading some 30,000 people to a flower-filled St. Peter’s Square in one of the most important liturgies of the year.

Just hours after celebrating the two-and-a-half-hour all-night Easter vigil, Francis, 87, appeared in fine form at the start of the liturgy in the windy square.

Francis, who had part of a lung removed when he was young, suffered through the winter from respiratory problems that he and the Vatican described as bronchitis, flu or cold.

Pope Francis celebrates Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican on Sunday, March 31, 2024. P.A.

The Vatican said about 30,000 people attended the mass, with more gathering on the Via della Conciliazione boulevard leading to the square.

At the start of the service, a gust of wind toppled a large religious icon on the altar a few meters from the pope; the bailiffs quickly straightened it out.

The Easter Mass is one of the most important dates in the liturgical calendar, celebrating what the faithful believe to be the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion.

The mass precedes the pope’s “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) blessing, a long speech that traditionally sums up all the threats weighing on humanity.

In recent weeks, Francis has generally avoided giving long speeches to avoid hampering his breathing.

Pope Francis prepares to sit in a wheelchair on the day of Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, March 31, 2024. REUTERS
Pope Francis greets his faithful after celebrating Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, Sunday March 31, 2024. P.A.

He abandoned his Palm Sunday homily last week and decided at the last minute to stay home after the Good Friday procession to the Colosseum.

The Vatican said in a brief explanation that the decision was taken to “preserve his health.”

The decision appears to have borne fruit, as Francis was able to recite prayers at the long Easter vigil on Saturday evening, including administering the sacraments of baptism and first communion to eight new Catholics, and preside over Easter Sunday mass.

After a busy Holy Week, Francis should have some time to recover as no major foreign trips are planned for several months.

New York Post

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