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Pope Francis Suffers “Cold Symptoms” Amid Coronavirus Outbreak in Italy

Susie Steck

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  • Pope Francis has recently cancelled three appearances due to “apparent cold.”
  • He was last seen publicly coughing and blowing his nose during a mass on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
  • During the event, Pope Francis expressed his “closeness to those who are ill with coronavirus and to health-care workers who are caring for them”.
  • His condition is amidst report of a growing coronavirus outbreak in Italy and the death of Iran’s ambassador to Vatican.

The 87-year-old Pope Francis has again cancelled his appearance for the and Vatican said it is due to “apparent cold”. This was the third time that Pope Francis cancelled his public audience, after he was spotted coughing, blowing his nose, and struggling during the Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.

It was the first time that Pope Francis cancelled his official commitments or events in the seven-year of papacy. Pope Francis, however, will continue to work from his residence at the Vatican’s Santa Marta guest house.

The Vatican said that although he will be receiving people privately in his residence. One of those private meetings were with “the chief of the Vatican’s bishop, Pope Francis’ ambassadors to Lebanon and France and a Ukrainian archbishop.”

On Friday, the Vatican also announced his decision to cancel a gathering with the IBM, Microsoft, and other tech executives, explaining that the Holy Father feels “slight indisposition”.

The Pope’s “slight indisposition” is amidst the increasing incidents of Italians falling ill and testing positive of coronavirus with over 1,700 cases and 41 deaths as of posting time. The government admitted that Italy is “battling the worst outbreak of Covid-19” outside of Asia.

Vatican press officer Matteo Bruni said the pontiff attended his usual morning Mass and greeted participants at the end, however, Pope Francis is still feeling “slightly unwell”. The Pope then cleared all his appointment except for his meetings in his residence at the Santa Marta guest house.

He has official audience with Microsoft, IBM, and other tech executives shortly after the Mass, but Pope Francis also canceled them.

During the celebration of Ash Wednesday Mass, the Pope Francis also prayed for the people who have fallen ill from coronavirus. He commented on the public health crisis, expressing his “closeness to those who are ill with coronavirus and to health-care workers who are caring for them”.

Prior to that, he went around the St. Peter’s Square. He greeted, kissed the faces, and shook the hands of the faithfuls. Some followers were spotted wearing masks – while others did not – and they also embraced the Holy Father.

During his Pope Mobile spin around the square, the Pope stopped and kissed a child. 

The Argentine Pope has generally been in good health, but during his younger years, he lost part of one lung after suffering from a respiratory illness and sciatica, which makes walking difficult. 


Watch the video how Pope Francis struggled with his cough and running nose during the Ash Wednesday celebration.

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