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Pope Francis leaves the Paul VI Audience Hall after his weekly general audience at the Vatican yesterday (CNS/Vatican Media)

After telling people at his general audience, “I’m still a bit sick”, and having aides read most of his prepared remarks, Pope Francis yesterday paid a brief visit to Rome’s Gemelli Isola Hospital for “diagnostic tests”, the Vatican press office confirmed. Source: NCR Online.

In a statement, the press office said: “Pope Francis went to the Gemelli Isola Tiberina Hospital for some diagnostic tests. Afterward, he returned to the Vatican.”

The 87-year-old Pope had cancelled his appointments on Saturday and Monday because of what the Vatican press office described as “mild flu-symptoms” but Francis led the recitation of the Angelus prayer on Sunday without obvious difficulty. The Vatican provided no health update on Tuesday since that is his usual day off so he did not have to cancel any appointments.

Arriving for his audience yesterday, Francis used a wheelchair instead of walking with his cane. His voice was hoarse and softer than usual.

Francis also went to the Gemelli Isola Hospital in late November for a CT scan of his lungs. At the time, Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office had said, “The CT scan ruled out pneumonia, but showed pulmonary inflammation that was causing some respiratory difficulties.”

The problems forced him to cancel a planned trip to Dubai in December for the United Nations climate change summit. On several occasions in the first weeks of December, he had aides read his speeches for him. In mid-January, saying he had “a bit of bronchitis,” he skipped several speeches although kept meeting different groups.

Pope Francis had undergone surgery in 1957 to remove part of one of his lungs after suffering a severe respiratory infection. He has insisted the operation has had no lasting impact on his health.

But in March last year he was hospitalised for what doctors said was a “respiratory infection.” He tested negative for COVID-19.


Pope makes brief trip to hospital for unspecified tests (By Cindy Wooden, CNS via NCR Online