(Rome) Pope Francis, hospitalized last week for bronchitis, had canceled due to the cold his participation in the traditional “Stations of the Cross” organized Friday evening at the Colosseum in Rome.

About 20,000 people took part in the ceremony dedicated to the victims of conflicts around the world. The “Via Crucis” notably honored the testimony of two young people, a Ukrainian and a Russian, who prayed for peace and brotherhood, more than a year after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In the early afternoon, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis would follow the ceremony from the Saint Martha residence, where he resides, “due to the intense cold of recent days”.

An unusual cold snap for this period hits the Italian capital, with temperatures not exceeding 10°C in the evening.

At the end of the afternoon, the 86-year-old Argentine pope, however, presided over the Passion service at St. Peter’s Basilica as planned.

Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has always participated in the Stations of the Cross, a highlight of Holy Week which brings to life the Calvary of Christ, from his death sentence to his crucifixion, his death and his tomb, according to Christian tradition.

Organized since 1964 in the sumptuously illuminated Roman amphitheater, the “Via Crucis” had taken place in Saint Peter’s Square in 2020 and 2021 because of the health crisis.

Jorge Bergoglio, who suffers from chronic health problems and often uses a wheelchair due to knee pain, was hospitalized for three days last week in Rome with infectious bronchitis, which has reignited speculation about his future.

Since his release on Saturday, he has participated in several public appointments at the Vatican, including Palm Sunday Mass and the weekly general audience on Wednesday. Thursday, he proceeded as is the Catholic tradition with the ceremony of the washing of feet, on 12 young detainees in a prison for minors in Rome.

He is to preside over Easter Mass on Sunday in St. Peter’s Square before giving the traditional “Urbi et Orbi” blessing.