The Mercedes SUV popemobile did multiple laps around the square, so that the pope could also greet the people at the very back of the crowd. At one point, the popemobile stopped and the Vatican security team lifted up babies and young children for the pope to kiss and bless.
Pope Francis spoke at the live-streamed general audience about the important witness that the elderly can offer to younger generations by remaining faithful until the end, like the biblical figure of Eleazar, whose story is described in the Second Book of Maccabees.
“Faith deserves respect and honor to the very end: it has changed our lives, it has purified our minds, it has taught us the worship of God and the love of our neighbor. It is a blessing for all,” he said.
While greeting some bishops and cardinals at the end of the audience, the seated pope gestured to his knee. One cardinal could be seen placing his hand on the pope’s knee as if offering a prayer for his recovery.
Pope Francis said on April 30 that his doctor had ordered him not to walk. During the last several weeks, he has canceled meetings and opted to spend more time seated during public audiences or Masses.
In an interview published on May 3, the pope said that he planned to undergo a medical procedure on his knee with injections.
“I have been like this for some time, I cannot walk,” Francis said, according to the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera.
“It also brings a little pain, humiliation,” he said.
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.
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