Pope Francis, 87, taken to hospital for 'diagnostic tests' after suffering from flu in latest health concern

28 February 2024, 14:00

Pope Francis has been taken to hospital
Pope Francis has been taken to hospital. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

The Pope has been taken to hospital for tests amid a bout of flu.

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Pope Francis, 87, was hospitalised after the weekly papal audience on Wednesday, according to the Vatican.

Officials said in a statement: "After the general audience Pope Francis went to the Gemelli Isola Tiberina Hospital for some diagnostic tests. At the end he returned to the Vatican."

He was seen being driven to the hospital, which is about two miles from Vatican City, in a small white Fiat 500, and being driven back in the same car.

The pope has been struggling with flu for the past week.

Read more: Pope Francis, 86, admitted to hospital for surgery on intestine

Read more: Pope Francis criticises people who are 'ravenous' for wealth and power in Christmas homily

Pope Francis on Wednesday
Pope Francis on Wednesday. Picture: Alamy

At the papal audience earlier in the day, he was pushed in a wheelchair, and appeared tired as he sat down. He has walked the short distance to his chair in recent weeks.

He also cancelled appointments on Saturday and Monday because of his flu, but appeared as usual for the Sunday blessing from a window overlooking St Peter's Square.

The Pope is missing part of one lung, after it was removed when he was a young man in his native Argentina.

He has suffered from respiratory problems on and off for years. He went through a period of breathing difficulties and lung inflammation last November, and was forced to cancel some engagements. That April he spent three days in hospital with bronchitis.

The car carrying Pope Francis leaves the Gemelli Isola Tiberina Hospital in Rome
The car carrying Pope Francis leaves the Gemelli Isola Tiberina Hospital in Rome. Picture: Alamy

Francis has suffered other health problems too. He had bowel surgery in June 2023, and also had an operation to repair a hernia.

By custom, being Pope is a position for life. In 2013, Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, became the first pontiff in about 600 years to resign from the role of head of the Catholic church. He died in 2022, aged 95.

Francis has not ruled out stepping down himself, if his health gets in the way of him performing his duties.

Pope Benedict stepped down in 2013
Pope Benedict stepped down in 2013. Picture: Alamy

But on Wednesday, he was still well enough to pray for people suffering in tragedies unfolding around the world.

He used his closing address at the end of Wednesday's audience to mark the 25th anniversary of the ratification of the Anti-Personnel Mines Convention, expressing his "closeness to the numerous victims of these insidious devices that remind us of the dramatic cruelty of war".

He also appealed for peace in the Middle East, Ukraine and prayed for the victims of attacks in Burkina Faso and Haiti.

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