The head of the Vatican, Pope Francis has cancelled two masses scheduled around New Year’s Eve, due to pain in his sciatic nerve, the Vatican said on Thursday.
Following the footsteps of an age-long tradition, the 84-year-old pontiff was expected to pronounce an evening prayer at Saint Peter’s Basilica on New Year’s Eve, traditionally followed by the Te Deum hymn.
Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re will substitute the pope on New Year’s Eve, Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said.
On New Year Day, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin is to lead the New Year’s mass at Saint Peter’s in the morning instead of Pope Francis.
The pope would, however, return to conduct the Angelus prayer on the afternoon of Jan. 1 in the Vatican library, Bruni said.
The masses are not open to the broader public due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Vatican said the pope was suffering from sciatic nerve pain, which can be due to the nerve being inflamed or squashed, causing pain in the back and legs.