ROME – After a packed afternoon with multiple appointments the day before, Pope Francis did not hold any meetings or public audiences Friday morning due to a fever, a Vatican spokesman has said.

In response to reporters, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said, “Due to a feverish state, Pope Francis did not hold any audiences this morning.”

The pope had an especially busy day Thursday, holding at least eight private and public audiences before meeting with a forum of students organized by Scholas Occurentes, a pet project of Pope Francis, which he launched while still Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

The organization’s aim is to build “bridges of dialogue and encounter” in schools around the world through culture, sports, and technology.

On Friday morning a list of papal appointments for the day was not sent out as usual, and no statement was given as to why the pope did not have anything on his schedule, prompting questions about the pontiff’s well-being after his recent health scare.

Pope Francis was hospitalized in late March with a respiratory infection which the Vatican later said was diagnosed as bronchitis, for which he received intravenous antibiotic treatment and was released after three days.

Nearly two years ago, in July 2021, the pope was admitted to the Gemelli hospital for an invasive colon surgery, where he spent eleven days before returning to the Vatican.

In addition to the operation on his colon, as a young man Pope Francis had part of one lung removed after a severe bout of pneumonia. More recently, in 2019 he underwent ocular surgery at Rome’s Clinic of Pius XI to treat a cataract, and he’s also struggled with sciatica pain.

For the past year he has struggled with knee troubles that have largely confined him to the use of a cane or a wheelchair.

In his comment to reporters, Bruni did not say whether Pope Francis’s audiences for Saturday would also be canceled, or whether he would hold meetings as usual.

Speaking to journalist Julio Vaqueiro with Spanish language television program Noticias Telemundo en El Vaticano ahead of his encounter with Scholas Thursday afternoon, Pope Francis said his health following his hospitalization was “much better.”

Referring to his knee troubles, the pope said those were also improving, adding, “I can walk now. The knee is mending itself. Before I couldn’t walk, now I can again. There are days that are more painful, like today. There are days that not, but it’s part of the development.”

Francis said his bout of bronchitis earlier this year was “really an unexpected thing. It was acute pneumonia. But we caught it in time, they told me, and if we had waited a few more hours, it would have been more serious. But I left in four days,” he said, saying, “I’m already at the age where you have to say ‘how good you look.’ It is the compliment to the old.”

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