Vatican Suspends Corpus Christi Procession Citing Pope’s Health

Pope Francis receives in audience the Soldiers of the Grenadier Brigade of Sardinia, engag
Grzegorz Galazka/Archivio Grzegorz Galazka/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

ROME — The Vatican has suspended the annual papal celebration of a Corpus Christi Mass and procession, citing Pope Francis’s ongoing knee problems and the exertion demanded by the liturgy.

“Due to the limitations imposed on the pope by his acute knee pain and the specific liturgical demands of the celebration, the Holy Mass and procession with the Eucharistic blessing will not be celebrated on the occasion of the feast of Corpus Christi,” declared papal spokesman Matteo Bruni in a statement to the press.

Corpus Christi, or the body of Christ, is an annual feast celebrated by the Catholic Church to underscore its belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

The Vatican has announced that in the pope’s absence, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, archpriest of Saint Peter’s basilica, will celebrate a Corpus Christi Mass at the altar of the Chair in the basilica on the morning of June 16, followed by a Eucharistic procession and blessing.

On Sunday, Pope Francis apologized to the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan for having cancelled his scheduled July visit to the African continent.

“Dear friends, with great regret, due to problems with my leg, I have had to postpone my visit to your countries, planned for the first days of July,” the pope said following his Angelus prayer in Saint Peter’s Square.

“I truly feel great sorrow for having had to postpone this trip, which means so much to me,” he said. “I apologize for this. Let us pray together that, with the help of God and medical attention, I will be able to be with you as soon as possible.”


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