Human Interest 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 By Abigail Adams Abigail Adams Instagram Twitter Digital News Writer, PEOPLE People Editorial Guidelines Published on March 29, 2023 04:33 PM Share Tweet Pin Email 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." Pope Francis Condemns Anti-Gay Laws Around the World: 'Being Homosexual Is Not a Crime' 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. 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. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. 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.