Pope Francis Will Be Hospitalized for a 'Few Days' with Respiratory Infection, Vatican Says

Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said the Pope recently "complained of some respiratory difficulties" before visiting a hospital in Rome

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis travels through Central Park to meet and greet New Yorkers on September 25, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
Pope Francis. Photo: James Devaney/GC Images

Pope Francis has been hospitalized with a respiratory infection, according to the Vatican.

The 86-year-old pontiff will spend "a few days" at a hospital in Rome, according to the BBC and CNN.

In a statement, Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said the Pope recently "complained of some respiratory difficulties" before visiting Policlinico A. Gemelli for "medical checks," per CNN.

"The outcome of the same showed a respiratory infection (excluding Covid-19 infection) that will require a few days of appropriate hospital medical therapy," the spokesperson said. "Pope Francis is touched by the many messages received and expresses his gratitude for the closeness and prayer."

Before he was hospitalized, the pontiff spoke at his weekly general audience at St Peter's Square on Wednesday, per the outlets. Afterwards, he was taken to the hospital for what the Vatican said at the time were "previously scheduled tests."

His schedule for Thursday has since been cleared, according to CNN.

Pope francis
Pope Francis. Massimo Valicchia/NurPhoto via Getty

The pope's hospitalization comes as the Catholic Church prepares for one of its biggest holidays: Easter.

He is scheduled to hold a Palm Sunday Mass over the weekend, followed by a number of events for Easter, as well as a trip to Hungary in April, according to the BBC.

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In December, the Pope revealed to a Spanish newspaper that he had penned a resignation letter nearly a decade ago.

"I signed it and said: 'If I should become impaired for medical reasons or whatever, here is my resignation,' " the pontiff said at the time.

In July, the Pope — who occassionally uses a wheelchair and delayed a trip last year due to knee problems — told reporters that he had not considered retirement until after a recent six-day trip to Canada, adding that changing pontiffs "is not a catastrophe."

"I either need to save myself a little in order to continue serving the Church, or I need to consider the possibility of stepping aside," he said at the time.

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