The pope, who has long had sciatica nerve pain that makes him walk with a pronounced limp, has suffered for several weeks with what he has said is an inflamed ligament in his right knee. He has cited the pain in explaining his limited mobility recently and his decision to remain seated during events that would otherwise see him stand.
Francis had been due to travel to Florence for a half-day visit Sunday to address a meeting of Mediterranean bishops and mayors and to celebrate Mass. It would have been his first pastoral visit within Italy since the pandemic.
He was to have presided over Ash Wednesday commemorations, including a short procession, at a church outside the Vatican in the Aventine neighborhood of Rome.
The Argentine Jesuit enjoys generally good health, though he had 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his large intestine removed in July. Francis also had part of one lung removed when he was a young man after a respiratory infection.
Despite the knee pain, the Vatican on Friday released Francis’ itinerary for an April 2-3 visit to Malta, making clear he plans to go ahead with his agenda.
This article originally appeared here.