Sick Pope Francis Cancels More Events

Pope Francis prays during his weekly general audience, at the Vatican, on Sept. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Francis cancelled events for the second day in a row today after falling ill.

The Vatican said the 83-year-old pontiff had decided not to go ahead with official audiences after he skipped a church service yesterday.

It comes as Italy is reeling from a worsening coronavirus outbreak which has so infected more than 500 people and caused 17 deaths.

The Vatican declined to say whether the Pope will be tested for the virus.

A spokesman said he celebrated Mass as usual this morning and will go ahead with some private meetings.

Yesterday he was too unwell to travel to a mass on the other side of Rome and stayed in the Santa Marta guesthouse where he lives in the Vatican.

His spokesman said he had a “light indisposition”.

Concerns for his health had been raised the day before after he was seen coughing and blowing his nose during an Ash Wednesday service in St Peter’s Basilica.

Earlier on Wednesday – the first day of Lent – Francis appeared in good spirits as he greeted a large crowd at a general audience in St Peter’s Square.

Many of the faithful wore face masks, but others did not as they kissed the the Holy Father and shook his hand.