Pope Francis skips the traditional Palm Sunday homily during Mass
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Pope Francis skips the traditional Palm Sunday homily during Mass

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Pope Francis deviated from tradition at the outset of Holy Week on Sunday by unexpectedly forgoing his annual Palm Sunday homily during Mass.

According to Reuters, the pontiff stood before tens of thousands of attendees in St. Peter’s Square but opted out of delivering the homily. Nevertheless, he proceeded with the service, later embarking in the popemobile to encircle the gathering.

In recent weeks, the 87-year-old pope has grappled with bronchitis and influenza, necessitating an aide to read his addresses. However, on Sunday, Francis chose not to have his prepared text read at all.

Holy Week commences with Palm Sunday, leading up to Easter, making the absence of a homily at such a significant event quite unusual.

The Vatican did not offer an explanation for the pope’s decision to skip the homily. Instead of focusing on him, cameras were directed towards the crowd for a brief period. An announcer on Vatican Radio later conveyed that Francis had opted not to deliver the homily, though he continued presiding over the service and reciting portions of the Mass.

The ceremony, attended by cardinals, priests, and bishops, commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem before his betrayal, trial, and crucifixion. Vatican police estimated around 60,000 individuals in attendance, many holding palms and olive branches.

Following Mass, the pope delivered his customary weekly Sunday Angelus message and blessing from the altar, diverging from the typical practice of addressing the crowd from a window of the Apostolic Palace, particularly during significant events.

While delivering the prayer, Francis denounced the recent attack at a concert hall near Moscow, which claimed over 130 lives, condemning it as a despicable and inhumane act offensive to God. He also called for prayers for those enduring suffering in Gaza, Ukraine, and other conflict zones.

After the service, Pope Francis delighted attendees by taking a ride around the square in an open-top vehicle, waving and smiling at the crowd.

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