Netizens around the world expressed wishes for Pope Francis to get well after he got “sick” a day after he was seen touching people wearing masks at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City.
In a statement, the Vatican said the 83-year-old Argentine pontiff skipped a planned mass with priests of the Diocese of Rome on Thursday because he had a “slight indisposition.”
It noted that Pope Francis “preferred to remain in the vicinity of Santa Marta,” where he lives.
There was no word from the Vatican on the nature of Pope Francis’ illness, but he was seen coughing and blowing his nose during the Ash Wednesday mass.
The Vatican City is inside Rome in Italy, where the highest number of confirmed cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus or COVID-19 in any European country has been reported, with 655.
At least 17 people died from the respiratory virus in Italy, as of Thursday afternoon.
Following reports that he’s sick, Pope Francis has been flooded with well wishes on his Twitter account.
“Get well soon, Father.”
Get well soon, Father
— JS (@jumblejan) February 27, 2020
“TAKE CARE, POPE!!! HOPING IT WAS NOT CORONAVIRUS YOU GET.”
TAKE CARE, POPE!!! HOPING IT WAS NOT CORONA VIRUS YOU GET.
— Jerico Soriano (@Jericoseph) February 27, 2020
“Hope you feel better soon Pope Francis!”
Hope you feel better soon Pope Francis!
— MissMolly (@MissMollyann1) February 27, 2020
“I hope your feeling better, and get well soon.”
I hope your feeling better, and get well soon.
— bluesrules (@guidoguy08) February 27, 2020
“God Bless dear @Pontifex. All love and prayers for your good health. 🙏✝️🙏”
“Please be well. 🙏🏼”
“May GOD bless you and keep you and his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. Get well Francis.”
may GOD bless you and keep you and his face shine upon you and be gracious to you get well Francis
— j (@j7412maverick) February 27, 2020
“Amen. Please be well.”
Amen please be well
— Joyce Welu Johnson (@JoycejohnsonR) February 27, 2020
“Get well soon Pope Francis.”
During the Ash Wednesday service, Pope Francis offered prayers to people sick with the coronavirus and to the medical personnel treating them.
“I want to again express my closeness to those suffering from the coronavirus and the health care workers who are treating them, as well as the civil authorities and all those who are working to help patients and stop the contagion,” the pope said.
Pope Francis also shook hands with the faithful sitting in the front row and kissed at least one child as he looped through the square in his popemobile.
In the crowd of thousands, a handful had masks on their faces.
Pope Francis also greeted prelates with a handshake at the beginning and end of the gathering.
However, it appeared that most clergy refrained from kissing his ring or embracing him as they normally would do.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said for the first time, the new coronavirus was spreading faster outside China, where it originated.
Globally, more than 80,000 people in about 40 countries have been infected with the virus, which emerged in December.
The vast majority remain in China.
The COVID-19 has already killed more than 2,700 people worldwide.