Pope Francis ushered in the New Year with a traditional Angelus blessing from the papal library, pushing through nerve pain that forced him to skip New Year’s ceremonies in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The pope appeared relaxed as he stood at a lectern in the Apostolic Palace wishing the faithful watching via video “a year of peace, a year of hope.”
“Life today is governed by war, by enmity, by many things that are destructive. We want peace. It is a gift,” Francis said, adding that the response to the global coronavirus crisis showed the importance of burden-sharing.
“The painful events that marked humanity’s journey last year, especially the pandemic, taught us how much it is necessary to take an interest in the problems of others and to share their concerns,” he said.
He smiled into the camera as he repeated his customary sign-off, “don’t forget to pray for me,” and wishing everyone “a good lunch.”
The papal blessing was moved inside from the usual perch at a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square to discourage crowds as Italy is living under tighter COVID-19 restrictions this holiday season.
The Vatican on Friday announced that the pope would not preside over a New Year’s Eve prayer service nor the New Year’s Day Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica due to “painful sciatica”- a relatively common problem that causes pain along the sciatic nerve down the lower back and legs.
Francis has spoken openly about his sciatica in the past.
It is a form of pain in the lower body caused by compression or irritation on nerve roots or on the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower spine down the thigh.
At the conclusion of the Angelus, the pope called for peace in Yemen, where children are living “without education, without medicine, hungry.”