'Tired' pope clears schedule after suffering fever

Next on Pope Francis's public schedule is Sunday's Mass at St Peter's Basilica

Pope Francis meets pupils from international Catholic schools in Rome. EPA
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Pope Francis cleared his schedule on Friday after coming down with a fever, two months after he was treated for bronchitis in hospital

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin attributed the fever to the Pope greeting people in a particularly large crowd at his school foundation on Thursday.

“The Pope was tired, yesterday he had a very busy day. He wanted to greet all of them and probably, at a certain point, lost his resistance,” Cardinal Parolin told LaPresse news agency.

Pope Francis, 86, had eight meetings on Thursday, according to his published schedule.

His morning audiences are usually reserved for heads of states, associations and clerics, while his afternoons are devoted to work and private meetings.

Next on the Pope's schedule is Sunday's Mass at St Peter's Basilica to celebrate Pentecost, followed by the traditional Regina Coeli prayer.

“Due to a feverish state, Pope Francis did not receive an audience this morning,” said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.

It was unclear who the Pope had been expected to meet, as his agenda was not made public on Friday, as is customary.

On Monday, he is scheduled to meet Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

Pope Francis, who has been the leader of the world's 1.3 billion Catholics for a decade, has suffered increasing health issues over the past year, including persistent pain in his right knee, sciatica and his recent hospital stay for bronchitis.

In late March, Pope Francis was admitted to hospital in Rome after having breathing difficulties, and stayed for three nights.

He went on to participate in Holy Week and Easter services, the most important week in the Christian calendar.

For about a year, the Pope has had to use a wheelchair due to recurring pain in his knee that he has said cannot be treated through surgery.

The Pope acknowledged last July, however, that he needed to slow down.

“At my age and with this limitation, I have to save myself a little bit to be able to serve the church,” he said at the time.

“Or, alternatively, to think about the possibility of stepping aside.”

In March, however, he insisted that he had no current plans to quit.

Updated: May 26, 2023, 5:58 PM