Pope Francis rubs his nose with a handkerchief © Gregorio Borgia
Due to a lingering cold, Pope Francis has again canceled several appointments. This was confirmed by Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni on Saturday. The 83-year-old head of the church is now ill for the third day in a row.
Although Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the morning and completed several program points at the Santa Marta guest house, some audiences were cancelled, he said. Among them, he said, was a meeting with participants of the General Chapter of the Legionaries of Christ.
The assembly of leadership and delegates of the religious community, which has been meeting in Rome since January, had announced a more decisive approach against sexual abuse. During the General Chapter, which is now coming to an end, corresponding documents were adopted.
Third day in a row sick
It is the third consecutive day Francis has been restricted due to the cold. Already on Thursday, he had canceled a meeting with priests of the diocese of Rome to spare himself. On Friday all official audiences were cancelled.
Beginning Sunday evening and continuing through Friday, Pope Francis and leading Curia officials plan to retreat to a religious house high above Lake Albano near Ariccia, southeast of Rome, for spiritual talks and prayers. Since 2014, Vatican leaders have begun the Easter penitential season with a week of retreats in the Alban Hills.
The meditations are guided by texts from the Book of Exodus and the Gospel of Matthew, among others. The reflections for the pope and curia staff are given by Jesuit Pietro Bovati, secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.