Pope Francis withdrew at the last minute to preside this Friday (31) the celebration of Vespers and the hymn “Te Deum” in St. Peter’s Basilica, which marks the end of the liturgical year at the Vatican.
At the age of 85, Jorge Bergoglio participated in the event, however, contrary to what was scheduled, he did not command the celebration, which was led by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re.
One aspect that indicates that the change was decided upon at the last minute is that the chair destined for the Pope was only placed in front of the benches shortly before the start of mass. Francis even entered St. Peter’s Basilica without his liturgical garments and appeared to walk with some difficulty.
“The Pope wanted this evening’s celebration to be presided over by Cardinal Re, dean of the College of Cardinals,” he limited himself to saying in the Vatican Press Office. The fact of not leading the celebration spared Francisco from some more tiring actions, such as the procession, climbing the steps of the altar and kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament.
Even so, the pontiff delivered a brief homily dedicated to the value of solidarity. “This era of pandemic created a feeling of loss throughout the world. After a first phase of reaction, during which we felt solidarity, the temptation to ‘save yourself if you can’ spread. But, thank God, we reacted again with a sense of responsibility,” he said.
In 2020, Bergoglio had not participated in the “Te Deum” because of pain in the sciatic nerve.