Vatican: Pope Francis has ‘strong cold’

Pope Francis sick greets pilgrims before his general audience Feb 26 2020 Credit Daniel Ibanez CNA Pope Francis greets pilgrims before his general audience Feb. 26, 2020. | Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

The Vatican said Thursday that Pope Francis is suffering from a heavy cold.

The Feb. 23 message said that due to a “strong cold,” the pope distributed copies of his speeches at two morning appointments rather than read them aloud as usual.

Francis still took part in the two audiences: the first with young priests and monks from Eastern Orthodox Churches and the second with a delegation from the German NGO and nonprofit Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science.

The Vatican did not indicate in the morning whether there would be further changes to Pope Francis’ Feb. 23 schedule due to being under the weather.

The Vatican later said at noon Rome time that Pope Francis’ last appointment of the day, a meeting with the YMCA Italy, had been canceled.

It also confirmed that other meetings went forward as planned.

The pope met with the former president of the Communion and Liberation movement, Father Julián Carrón; the director of the World Food Program, David M. Beasley; and Father Pasquale Spinoso.

Pope Francis also had a meeting with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of the Saints, to approve the advancement of the beatification causes of five servants of God and a miracle attributed to the intercession of one venerable.

Pope Francis in an audience with young priests and monks of the Eastern Orthodox Churches on Feb. 23, 2023. Vatican Media.
Pope Francis in an audience with young priests and monks of the Eastern Orthodox Churches on Feb. 23, 2023. Vatican Media.

On the afternoon of Feb. 22, the pope celebrated Ash Wednesday Mass at the fifth-century Basilica of Santa Sabina on Rome’s Aventine Hill.

It was his first time returning to the basilica since the start of Lent in February 2020.

Pope Francis’ schedule was also impacted by a cold in late February and early March 2020.

He was seen coughing and blowing his nose during his general audience and Ash Wednesday Mass Feb. 26, 2020.

Francis later canceled several appointments in favor of working from the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta guesthouse, where he lives.

The Vatican said a few days later that the pope had tested negative for COVID-19 and was suffering from a “common cold.”

This story is developing.

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