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Pope Francis leads Good Friday Mass in St. Peter's Basilica

Pope Francis leads Good Friday Mass in St. Peter's Basilica

The Holy Week schedule is challenging for popes even under the best of circumstances. But that is especially true this year for Francis, who has been battling on and off all winter what he and the Vatican have described as a case of the flu, bronchitis or a cold.

And in recent weeks, the 87-year-old Pontiff has often shown increased difficulties in walking, has asked an aide to read aloud his remarks and has been heard breathing heavily during public events.

Francis, who is frequently reliant on a wheelchair, was due to travel at night later on Friday to the Colosseum for the Way of the Cross procession re-enacting Christ’s crucifixion.

The torchlit procession to the Coliseum - which dates to the 18th century and was revived in 1964 - attracts thousands of faithful who listen to meditations re-enacting Christ's crucifixion.