Pope Francis undergoes diagnostic tests at Rome hospital

Pope Francis undergoes “diagnostic tests” at Rome hospital

Pope Francis, who has been ill with a mild flu in recent days, was admitted to a hospital in central Rome on Wednesday, renewing concerns about the 87-year-old pope's health. The Vatican said in a statement that he underwent “some diagnostic tests” but gave no details about a visit that lasted less than an hour.

At his weekly audience earlier in the day, Francis apologized to those in attendance and said an aide would read his speech because he still had “a slight cold.” After the audience ended, the pope spent about an hour greeting the faithful while sitting in a wheelchair that he has increasingly used in recent years.

Traffic police at Gemelli Hospital on Tiber Island said Francis arrived around 11:20 a.m. on Wednesday and left about 40 minutes later.

The Pope has been feeling unwell for several days. On Saturday, Francis' public audiences were canceled “due to a mild flu,” the Vatican said. The next day he recited the Angelus prayer and blessing from his apartment overlooking St. Peter's Square, but his audiences were canceled again on Monday because his “flu symptoms persisted, without fever,” the Vatican said at the time.

Francis also did not take part in the traditional procession at the beginning of Lent two weeks ago.

Francis' health was a cause for concern. The pope has been hospitalized three times in two years, most recently in June when surgeons operated on an incisional hernia that was typically a result of previous operations and had caused painful intestinal blockages. He also underwent intestinal surgery in 2021 and was hospitalized for a respiratory infection in March last year.

In November, Francis did not attend the UN climate summit in Dubai on doctors' orders after falling ill with flu and pneumonia. As a teenager, he lost part of his lung to an infection.

After the pope left Gemelli Hospital on Wednesday, operations there returned to normal and patients lined up for their appointments.

Jason Horowitz contributed reporting.