ROME – On Saturday morning the Vatican announced that Pope Francis, who suffers from various health maladies and had two hospital stays last year, cancelled his scheduled audiences for the day due to a mild flu.

In a Feb. 24 statement, the Vatican said that “due to mild flu-like state, as a preventative measure the pope has cancelled the audiences scheduled for today.”

The only public appointment Pope Francis had Saturday was a meeting with the deacons of the Diocese of Rome, who he was scheduled to meet with at 9:15 a.m. local time.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said that the pope’s noontime Sunday Angelus address was still on the schedule, and that no further health updates were expected for Saturday.

Pope Francis, 87, suffers from various health conditions, including chronic sciatica and knee troubles which have confined him to the use of a wheelchair, and which have made caused problems of mobility, especially during international travel.

He is also at increased risk for respiratory infections, as he had part of one lung removed after a particularly strong bout of pneumonia as a young Jesuit.

Last year Francis spent three nights in Rome’s Gemelli Hospital in late March and early April for bronchitis, describing the situation afterward as a close call. He then spent over a week in the hospital in June of last year after undergoing surgery for an abdominal hernia.

In December, the pope was forced to cancel a planned trip to Dubai for the COP28 climate summit due to a respiratory infection.

Though he has no travel commitments scheduled for the coming months, Francis is expected to make several international trips throughout the summer and fall, including visits to Oceania, Belgium, and potentially, a return visit to his native Argentina.

He is also scheduled to preside over the second half of his Synod of Bishops on Synodality in October, closing a multi-year process widely considered to be among the most important projects of his papacy.

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