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Pope Francis Returns To Work After Taking Day Off With Fever

Pope Francis has returned to work after taking a day off with a fever, the Vatican has said, with the pontiff due to hold several private audiences.

The 86-year-old, who was treated in hospital for bronchitis nearly two months ago, had a full calendar of meetings lined up, it said.

On Friday the Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni had said the Argentine pope was not holding audiences “due to a feverish state”.

It was unclear who the pope had been expected to meet, as his agenda was not made public.

The Vatican secretary of state, Pietro Parolin, blamed the pontiff’s busy schedule, saying he was “tired”.

Francis had eight meetings on Thursday, according to his published schedule.

His next public appearance is Sunday’s mass at St Peter’s Basilica to celebrate Pentecost (Whit Sunday), followed by the traditional Regina Coeli prayer.

On Monday, he is scheduled to meet the Italian president, Sergio Mattarella.

Francis, leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics since 2013, has suffered a number of health issues over the past year, including persistent pain in his right knee and a recent stay in hospital with bronchitis.

The episodes have sparked widespread concern and fuelled speculation that he might choose to retire rather than stay in the job for life, a choice made by his predecessor, Benedict XVI.

In late March, Francis was admitted to hospital in Rome after having breathing difficulties, and stayed for three nights.

He was treated with antibiotics for bronchitis.

As he left the Gemelli hospital on 1 April, the pope smiled and joked with wellwishers, quipping: “I am still alive!”

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