Pope sick after supporting virus sufferers
Pope Francis has come down with a "slight indisposition," forcing him to cancel a planned Mass in Rome, just a day after he expressed his solidarity with coronavirus sufferers around the world - and as the disease continues to spread across Italy.
The illness has forced the 82-year-old pontiff to nix a penitential Mass, marking the start of Lent, that he'd planned to celebrate at the St. John Lateran Basilica across town with Roman clergy, the Vatican said.
Francis will proceed with the rest of his planned work Thursday, but "preferred to stay near Santa Marta," the Vatican hotel where he lives, officials said.
The Vatican has not specified the nature of the pope's illness, but he was seen coughing and blowing his nose during Ash Wednesday Mass, the New York Post reports.
Meanwhile, 400 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Italy, and 12 people have died. Most of the cases have been reported in northern Italy.
Three cases were reported in Rome, but each person has already recovered.
During a General Audience in St. Peter's Square on Ash Wednesday, the pope expressed his support for coronavirus sufferers.
"I wish, again, to express my closeness to those who are ill with coronavirus and to health care workers who are caring for them," he said, according to Vatican News.
Francis has not specifically met with coronavirus sufferers, but shook hands with the faithful in the front row during the audience. He also kissed a baby during his Popemobile spin through St. Peter's Square and greeted visiting bishops.
But the clergy members appeared to refrain from kissing his ring or embracing him as they normally would.
This article originally appeared in the New York Post and was republished with permission.