Coughing pope cancels participating in Lenten retreat

Coughing pope cancels participating in Lenten retreat
Pope Francis coughs during the Angelus noon prayer he recited from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, March 1, 2020. A coughing Pope Francis told pilgrims gathered for the traditional Sunday blessing that he is canceling his participation at a week-long spiritual retreat in the Roman countryside because of a cold. It is the first time in his seven-year papacy that he has missed the spiritual exercises that he initiated early in his pontificate to mark the start of each Lenten season. (Source: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — A coughing Pope Francis told pilgrims gathered for the traditional Sunday blessing that he is canceling his participation at a week-long spiritual retreat in the Roman countryside because of a cold.

It is the first time in his seven-year papacy that he has missed the spiritual exercises that he initiated early in his pontificate to mark the start of each Lenten season.

The 83-year-old pontiff, who lost part of a lung to a respiratory illness as a young man, has canceled several official engagements this week as he’s battled an apparent cold.

His weekly appearance Sunday to pilgrims from a window high above St. Peter’s Square was the first time he has been seen publicly since Ash Wednesday, when he was seen coughing and blowing his nose during Mass.

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