Pope Francis marked 10 years as head of the Catholic Church this month, had earlier appeared in good spirits at his weekly audience at the Vatican, smiling as he greeted the faithful from his ‘popemobile’.
However, he was seen grimacing as he was helped into the vehicle.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement released earlier on Wednesday: ‘The Holy Father has been at Gemelli (Hospital) since this afternoon for some previously scheduled checks.’
Shortly after the one-sentence statement was released, it’s been reported that Pope Francis has a respiratory infection and will need to spend ‘a few days’ in hospital for treatment.
‘The tests showed a respiratory infection (COVID-19 infection excluded) that will require some days of medical therapy.
‘Pope Francis is touched by the many messages received and expresses his gratitude for the closeness and prayer,’ Bruni said.
Earlier, Pope had complained of breathing difficulties in recent days. It added that tests showed he did not have COVID-19.
Pope Francis suffers from diverticulitis, a condition that can infect or inflame the colon, and had an operation at the Gemelli hospital in 2021 to remove part of his colon.
He said in January that the condition had returned and that it was causing him to put on weight, but that he was not overly concerned.
He also has a problem with his knee and alternates between using a cane and a wheelchair in his public appearances.