"Painful sciatica" Prevents Pope Francis from Attending Vatican's New Year's Liturgies

Pope Francis offers Mass on Jan. 1, 2020 in St. Peter's Basilica. Credit: Vatican Media.

Because of sciatic pain, Pope Francis will not preside at the Vatican's liturgies on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, according to the Holy See press office.

Pope Francis was scheduled to lead vespers on Dec. 31, and to offer Mass on Jan. 1, for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, in St. Peter's Basilica.

The director of the Vatican press office, Matteo Bruni, stated Dec. 31 that the pope would no longer be doing so "due to a painful sciatica."

Pope Francis has suffered from sciatica for a number of years. He spoke about it during an in-flight press conference returning from a trip to Brazil in July 2013.

He revealed that "the worst thing" that had happened in the first four months of his pontificate "was an attack of sciatica – really! – that I had the first month, because I was sitting in an armchair to do interviews and it hurt."

"Sciatica is very painful, very painful! I don't wish it on anyone!" Francis said.

The pope will still recite the Angelus on Jan. 1, the Vatican statement said. During the Christmas season, Francis has been giving his Angelus message via livestream from the library of the Apostolic Palace, due to holiday coronavirus restrictions in Italy.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the secretary of state, will offer the Jan. 1 Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter's Basilica.

First Vespers, the singing of the "Te Deum," and Eucharistic adoration Dec. 31 was led by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, deacon of the College of Cardinals.


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