Vatican City, Feb. 28, 2020
Pope Francis on Friday cancelled engagements due to a slight ailment.
According to the Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, Francis celebrated morning Mass as usual but decided to postpone the day’s official audiences.
Bruni said the 83-year-old pontiff would however, confirm other meetings due to be held in Santa Marta, his residence within the Vatican’s grounds.
On Thursday, Francis pulled out of celebrating a Lenten service with priests from the Rome diocese in the Basilica of St. John in Lateran, roughly a six-kilometre drive from St. Peter’s Square.
Earlier, as he held his weekly audience and later led an Ash Wednesday service, he displayed the symptoms of a cold, with a hoarse voice and frequent coughing.
Francis’ ailment was announced amid widespread anxiety in Italy about the spread of the pneumonia-like new coronavirus, which is mostly affecting Northern regions and not Rome.
He, however, commented on the public health crisis, expressing his closeness to those who were ill with coronavirus and to health-care workers who are caring for them.