Pope John Paul II will miss the re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the first time he has not physically attended the ceremony in his 26-year pontificate.

Vatican officials say the 84-year-old pontiff may participate in the Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum through a video link depending on his health.

The pope was hospitalized twice within the past month and had a tube inserted in his throat to relieve breathing difficulties. He has delegated other Church officials to preside over ceremonies leading up to Easter, including Friday's Good Friday events.

Vatican officials say they expect the pope to deliver his Urbi et Orbi  blessing on Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.