Pope Francis, who has been suffering from the flu, was taken to a hospital in central Rome after the papal audience Wednesday, the Vatican said. The Vatican did not immediately comment on his condition.

The 87-year-old pontiff was seen arriving at Italian capital’s Gemelli Hospital on Tiber Island in a small white Fiat 500 and leaving again under escort in the same car after a short period, the ANSA news agency reported.

“After the general audience Pope Francis went to the Gemelli Isola Tiberina Hospital for some diagnostic tests,” the Vatican said in a statement. “At the end he returned to the Vatican.”

Pope Francis at the Vatican
Pope Francis during an audience at The Vatican on Wednesday.Tiziana Fabi / AFP – Getty Images

Earlier in the day Francis, seated in a wheelchair, was pushed into the audience hall at the Vatican. He appeared weary as he dropped heavily into his seat, according to Reuters. In recent weeks, he has walked the short distance to his chair, the agency added.

Francis, who has been struggling with mild flu symptoms the past week, canceled appointments Saturday and Monday, but appeared as usual for the Sunday blessing from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

In April, the pope spent three days at Gemelli Hospital for what the Vatican said was bronchitis. He was discharged after receiving intravenous antibiotics.

The pontiff has had several health problems in recent years. In late November, he was forced to cancel some of his activities and an international trip because of breathing problems. A scan at the time ruled out lung complications.

Pope Francis, who has been suffering from the flu, was brought to a hospital in central Rome aboard a small white Fiat 500 after the papal audience on Wednesday, leaving again in the same car after a short period.
The car carrying Pope Francis leaves the Gemelli Isola Tiberina Hospital in Rome on Wednesday.Andrew Medichini / AP

Francis had a part of one lung removed when he was young and still living in his native Argentina.

He also spent 10 days at Gemelli in July 2021 following intestinal surgery for narrowing of the bowel. He was readmitted in June for an operation to repair an abdominal hernia and remove scarring from previous surgeries.

But when asked about his health in a recent television interview, Francis quipped: “Still alive, you know.”

The pontiff has nonetheless indicated several times that he would be ready to step down, following the example of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, if his health deteriorates to the point that it becomes an impediment to him leading the Catholic Church.

Benedict’s resignation in 2013 marked a turning point for the church, as he became the first pontiff in six centuries to step down.

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