Sick Pope Francis Cancels Attendance at Lent Retreat

The pope giving his traditional Sunday message.
The pope on Sunday, giving his weekly blessing to pilgrims.Getty

The coughing pope announced he would not participate in the week-long retreat.

Pope Francis has canceled his participation in a traditional Lent retreat, blaming his ongoing battle with a cold. 

Coughing while giving his regular Sunday blessing to pilgrims, the Pope said he will not be attending the week-long spiritual exercises that he started to mark the beginning of Lent.  The retreat is held in the Italian countryside. 

The 83-year-old pontiff has been sick for several days and has canceled several official engagements. He lost part of a lung to a respiratory disease as young man. 

He was also seen coughing and blowing his nose during Mass on Ash Wednesday.