On Easter Sunday, Pope Francis presided over the Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica,⁤ despite recent health ⁤concerns. The 87-year-old pontiff‍ addressed a crowd of approximately 30,000 people, calling for an end to the violence in Gaza and Ukraine.

Pope Francis Overcomes Health Concerns

Pope Francis, who has been battling frequent respiratory⁣ issues in recent months, managed to gather the ⁢strength to preside over the Easter Sunday Mass. These health issues have necessitated hospital visits and‍ led to the cancellation of some of his appearances. Despite these challenges, the pontiff was able to lead a two-and-a-half-hour Easter Vigil on Saturday ​evening before conducting Sunday’s morning mass.

Call for Peace Amid Global Conflicts

The Pope’s Easter message comes against the backdrop of ongoing truce negotiations between Hamas and Israel, and ​the two-year war between Russia and Ukraine. He urged his listeners not to succumb ⁢to the logic of weapons and rearming. He also⁢ called for‍ the access of humanitarian aid to be ensured⁤ for Gaza, which has been under siege for six months since ​the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

“I appeal once again that access to humanitarian​ aid be ensured to Gaza, and call once more for the prompt release of⁤ the hostages seized on 7 October and for an immediate ceasefire in the Strip,” ‌said Pope Francis. He also expressed hope for a “general ⁢exchange ⁢of all prisoners⁣ between Russia‌ and Ukraine.”

He ⁣further called for a halt⁤ to the spread of violence beyond the current theaters of war, saying, ‍”Let us not allow the strengthening winds of war to blow on Europe and the Mediterranean.”

Post-Service Activities

After the service, Pope Francis traveled around the square in the ​popemobile to greet attendees.⁣ Due to mobility issues, ‍he was wheelchair-bound for most of the event. Despite ⁤his health concerns, he managed to visit Rebibbia Prison near Rome on Holy Thursday to‌ wash‌ the feet of female inmates, a ritual meant to emulate Jesus washing his disciples’ feet the night before he died. Francis is‌ the first pontiff in history to wash the feet of only women on Holy Thursday.