ROME (NEWSnet/AP) — Pope Francis skipped the traditional Good Friday procession at Rome’s Colosseum.

Francis had been expected to preside over the Way of the Cross procession, which re-enacts Christ’s Passion and crucifixion, and composed the meditations that are read aloud at each station. But as the event was about to begin, the Vatican announced Francis was following the event from home, to conserve health.

It was the first time he has skipped the traditional event in his 11-year papacy.

For the past several weeks, Francis occasionally has asked an aide to read aloud his speeches, and skipped his Palm Sunday homily.

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