VATICAN CITY – Pope John Paul II heard confessions from 12 people in St. Peter's Basilica on Good Friday, hours before a solemn Easter procession to commemorate the death of Jesus.
The frail, 80-year-old pope sat for an hour in a wooden booth, hearing confessions in Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese and his native Polish, keeping up a tradition he began after assuming the papacy in 1979.
The evening Good Friday procession, which symbolically traces Christ's path to his crucifixion, has been modified this year in deference to John Paul's age and health. He turns 81 on May 18 and suffers from symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
The pope used to carry a wooden cross for the entire half-mile procession. This year he will watch most of the rite while kneeling and pick up the cross only at the end.
John Paul's Easter Week schedule also includes a vigil service Saturday night, which was moved into St. Peter's Square from the basilica to accommodate an expected crowd of more than 25,000 people, as well as an Easter Mass on Sunday.