Pope Francis looks healthier at his weekly audience

Pope Francis Makes a Strong Return to Public Life for Easter Week, Faces Health Challenges but Remains Vital

Despite recent health struggles, Pope Francis appeared stronger on Wednesday as he prepared for a busy Easter week schedule. The 87-year-old pontiff read his pre-prepared texts at his weekly audience in full, showing more vitality than in recent appearances where an aide had taken over most of the readings. Francis used the opportunity to make fresh appeals for peace in Ukraine and the Middle East, and to greet two men in the audience who had both lost daughters in the Israel-Hamas war, referring to them as friends who had both experienced a form of crucifixion.

Pope Francis has been struggling with bronchitis and influenza for over a month and has had to limit public speaking, cancel some meetings, and undergo medical checks at a Rome hospital. Concerns about his health peaked when he skipped his Palm Sunday service homily just three days ago. However, despite these challenges, the pontiff is set to lead several services leading up to Easter Sunday, including a symbolic washing of the feet ritual at a women’s prison on Thursday.

Easter is a significant celebration in the Christian calendar, marking the day when Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead. Despite mobility issues due to a knee problem, Pope Francis arrived at the Paul VI audience hall on Wednesday using a cane, eschewing the wheelchair he sometimes relies on. In good spirits, he made light of the last-minute change to the indoor venue due to rainy weather, reassuring attendees that while they might be cramped, at least they wouldn’t get wet.

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