Vatican Secretary of State to celebrate New Year's Day Mass instead of Pope Francis.
Pope Francis will not preside over the Vatican's New Year's Eve and New Year's Day celebrations due to "painful sciatica," the Vatican said in a statement today.
The pontiff had been due to lead the end of year Vespers in St Peter's Basilica on 31 December, as well as celebrating Mass on 1 January.
The Vespers will instead be presided over by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Dean of the College of Cardinals, while the Mass on New Year’s Day will be celebrated by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, reports Vatican News.
Pope Francis will however pray the Angelus from the Apostolic library and address the faithful at midday on 1 January 2021.
The news comes a week after the Vatican decided to move its Christmas and New Year ceremonies indoors, including the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing.
The programming change came as the Vatican confirmed that two cardinals close to the pontiff had tested positive for covid-19.
On 27 February Pope Francis cancelled a scheduled Mass over what was described at the time as a "slight imposition" by the Vatican press office which was forced to deny rumours that the 84-year-old pontiff could have contracted covid-19.
Pope Francis first revealed that he suffers from sciatica, a nerve condition, in 2013. The pope told reporters: "Sciatica is very painful, very painful! I don’t wish it on anyone!”
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