In shift, Pope Francis walks procession

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Pope Francis celebrates the Corpus Domini mass in front of St. John at the Lateran Basilica, to mark the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, in Rome, Thursday, May 30, 2013. The event is dedicated to the mystery of the Eucharist and concludes the cycle of feasts following Easter. Pope Francis celebrated the evening Mass at St. John in Lateran Basilica then traveled a short distance in a procession to St. Mary Major Basilica. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis has again broken with the practice of his predecessors, walking the full length of an annual 1.5 kilometer (mile-long) procession from one Roman basilica to another.

The 76-year-old Francis, who walks with a slight limp because of apparent lower back pain, paused several times in prayer during the 45-minute nighttime walk between St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major.

Thousands of pilgrims holding candles lined the route on a chilly spring evening.

During his nearly eight-year pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI would make the annual Corpus Domini procession riding on a specially outfitted flat-top pickup truck, kneeling in prayer. Pope John Paul II did the same in his final years.

On Thursday, two priests knelt on the truck in prayer before the Eucharist while Francis walked behind them.