Pope Francis today made his first public appearance in four days following what the Vatican has called a ‘slight indisposition’ that forced him to cancel some audiences and activities.
The 83-year-old Roman Catholic leader appeared at the window of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace to address thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly Sunday noon message and blessing.
It was his first public appearance since an Ash Wednesday Mass in Rome, during which he was seen coughing and sneezing.
Despite recovering enough to make his weekly Sunday address, Francis was forced to cancel a planned spiritual retreat due to start later today.
He made the surprise announcement to the crowd of pilgrims: ‘Unfortunately a cold will force me not take part this year.
A coughing Pope Francis told pilgrims gathered for the traditional blessing today he is cancelling his participation at a week-long spiritual retreat in the Roman countryside because of a cold.
The pope’s is illness came to light last Wednesday, a day after he was pictured kissing heads and touching faces as he met with crowds in St. Peter’s Square, saying he had solidarity with those suffering from coronavirus.
As a result Pope Francis postponed his official appointments on Friday and was ‘working from home’, the Vatican said.
A day earlier he cancelled a scheduled appearance at mass because of the ‘mild ailment’ as it was described by the Vatican.
He was forced him to spend Thursday around his Saint Martha’s guest house in the Vatican.
But he still continued celebrating the morning mass and receiving visitors even as public events were cancelled and schools closed across swathes of Italy this week because of the coronavirus outbreak.
He met with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church head Sviatoslav Shevchuk and was meant to join the entire Roman Curia – the Holy See’s administrative institutions – at the retreat on Sunday.