Many Praying Pope Frances Is Not Being Affected By The Coronasvirus

POPE Francis cancelled a church service today after he was struck down with illness. The 83-year-year-old pontiff was not well enough to attend the mass, although there is no...

POPE Francis cancelled a church service today after he was struck down with illness.

The 83-year-year-old pontiff was not well enough to attend the mass, although there is no suggestion at this stage he has coronavirus as the outbreak in Italy topped 500 cases.

 Pope Francis blows his nose during an Ash Wednesday mass yesterday
Pope Francis blows his nose during an Ash Wednesday mass yesterdayCredit: Reuters
Credit: AP:Associated Press

The Pope covered his mouth as he coughed

 Francis appeared to be struggling during the service at St Peter's Basilica yesterday
Francis appeared to be struggling during the service at St Peter’s Basilica yesterdayCredit: Getty Images – Getty

He was due to worship today with clergy at St John Lateran basilica on the other side of Rome, but stayed in the Santa Marta guesthouse where he lives in the Vatican.

Spokesman Matteo Bruni said: “Because of a slight indisposition, he preferred to stay inside Santa Marta.

“All other commitments will go ahead.”

It is not clear what his symptoms were, but he was seen blowing his nose and coughing during an Ash Wednesday service in St Peter’s yesterday.

Earlier yesterday – the first day of Lent – Francis appeared in good spirits as he greeted a large crowd at a general audience in St Peter’s Square.

Many of the faithful wore face masks, but others did not as they embraced the Holy Father.

Francis stopped to shake hands with worshippers in the front row and kissed a child during his popemobile spin through the square.

He also greeted visiting bishops, but they appeared to refrain from kissing his ring or embracing him as they normally would.

It comes as Italy is reeling from a coronavirus outbreak, the worst outside Asia.

The death toll from rose to 14 today with 528 cases – including a singer at the famous La Scala opera house.

Rome has had three known patients, all of them since recovered.

Germany’s health minister warned of the “beginning of an epidemic” as cases there soared to 27 and the virus spread to every continent except Antarctica.

Some Ash Wednesday services were cancelled yesterday across northern Italy, the centre of the outbreak in Europe.

The Argentine pope has generally enjoyed good health.

But he lost part of one lung after suffering TB as a young man in Buenos Aires, and suffers from sciatica, which makes walking difficult.

 Pope Francis appeared in good spirits as he greeted the faithful in St Peter's Square yesterday
Pope Francis appeared in good spirits as he greeted the faithful in St Peter’s Square yesterdayCredit: Reuters
 Francis is kissed by a worshipper on Ash Wednesday
Francis is kissed by a worshipper on Ash WednesdayCredit: AP:Associated Press
 Some of the crowd wore face masks amid a coronavirus outbreak across Italy
Some of the crowd wore face masks amid a coronavirus outbreak across ItalyCredit: Alamy Live News
 Francis rubs ashes on the head of a cardinal yesterday to celebrate the first day of Lent
Francis rubs ashes on the head of a cardinal yesterday to celebrate the first day of LentCredit: Reuters
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