The 83-year-old pontiff celebrated morning Mass and greeted people at the end. He then canceled his official audiences, according to the Vatican News.
“The Holy Father celebrated Mass this morning and at the end, as usual, greeted the participants, but decided to postpone today’s official audiences,” spokesman Matteo Bruni said. “The meetings on the agenda at Casa Santa Marta continue regularly.”
The Vatican hasn’t confirmed what illness Pope Francis has come down with. He appeared to have a cold and blew his nose several times during the Ash Wednesday Mass.
Bruni had told the news service that Francis had “a slight indisposition” while the Pope “preferred to stay inside Santa Marta,” where he lives. “All other commitments will go ahead regularly,” he said.
The spokesman added at the time Pope Francis’s “other commitments proceed regularly,” according to the Catholic News Agency.
Photos from Wednesday showed him touching masked well-wishers in the city.
During the Ash Wednesday Mass, Pope Francis expressed sympathy to those who have been sickened by the COVID-19 coronavirus as well as health workers who are trying to prevent it from spreading, CNA reported.
Italian health officials have confirmed the country has 650 cases of COVID-19, adding that 17 people have died. Eleven towns and villages in Lombardy, as well as Veneto, have been placed under quarantine.