With knee pain from a torn ligament, Pope Francis appeared in public in a wheelchair for the first time on Thursday (5).
In an audience with a group of nuns at the Vatican, Francis was pushed around by an aide, who then helped him out of his chair and into a seat.
The 85-year-old pontiff, who suffers from osteoarthritis that has affected a ligament in his right knee, has had to cancel appointments several times in the past month due to pain at the site.
Before this Thursday, he was able to walk the approximately 10 meters from the side entrance of the stage to his seat in the center, albeit with the help of aides.
During the Easter period last month, Francis failed to preside over Masses in St Peter’s Basilica several times, delegating the task to an archbishop or cardinal while he remained seated during the service. He also read the homily while sitting.
On Tuesday, in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, he said that he would undergo a knee injection to relieve the pain he suffers due to the torn ligament. Infiltration is a procedure that consists of injecting drugs with an anti-inflammatory, analgesic or regenerative effect directly into the joint.
Francis, who in March began his tenth year of pontificate, has apologized in recent weeks to the faithful who attend the audiences for giving the blessing while sitting, as he cannot stand for long.
On Wednesday, during the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the pope had to be helped to walk and stand.
Francisco also has chronic sciatic nerve problems, which often cause severe pain, and underwent a colon operation in July 2021.
The surgery — a left hemicolectomy, in which part of the colon is removed — was done to treat diverticular stenosis, a condition in which “pockets” form in the muscular layer of the colon, making it narrower. It is a more common diagnosis in the elderly.
Francisco also has gallstones — a condition in which the substances that make up bile, the liquid used to digest food, solidify — and had a temporary heart condition in 2004 after a narrowing of an artery. Liver problems have been resolved over the past few years with a change in his diet.