Pope Francis welcomed a group of pilgrims Saturday and told them he would rather stand up but this time around he would have to pay attention to his doctors, who had advised him not to walk. My leg is not well, the Argentina-born 85-year-old Pontiff said.
Now I will impart the blessing to you and we will pray together so that the Lord will bless you all. And then I will greet you, but there is a problem: this leg is not well, it does not work, and the doctor has asked me not to walk, he said with a smile at the end of the audience with travelers from Slovakia, in the Paul VI Hall of the Vatican.
I like to walk, but this time I must obey the doctor. That is why I will ask you to make the sacrifice of climbing the stairs and I will greet you here, he added.
The 85-year-old pontiff suffers from a problem in his right leg that makes it difficult for him to walk, causing him to limp. The ailment also keeps him from standing for extended periods of time. In recent weeks he has even changed some rites during Easter Week.
The Holy See had confirmed earlier this year that the Pope was suffering from acute gonalgia, a rheumatic pain in the knee for which he was recommended to rest more, having to suspend a trip to Florence and other engagements.
Earlier last month during his trip to Malta, he was unable to descend the stairs of the plane for the first time and resorted to an elevator.
During Saturday's speech, the Pope thanked the Slovaks for their country's welcome to Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war-torn area. Many of your families, parishes, and institutions have welcomed under their roofs mothers with children from Ukrainian families forced to separate for safety, arriving with their poor luggage, he said.
The pontiff also asked the Slovak faithful to continue to pray and work for peace which is built on everyday life, also with gestures of welcoming charity.
In the past, Francis suffered some attacks of sciatica, openly acknowledged by him, and in July 2021 he underwent colon surgery, remaining hospitalized for ten days in Rome's Gemelli hospital.
However, he resumed his agenda shortly afterwards with international trips in September to Budapest and Slovakia and in December to Cyprus and Greece.