(Vatican City) Pope Francis, 86, was hospitalized in Rome on Wednesday and his upcoming engagements have been canceled, the Vatican said, amid recurring questions about his health.

Pending the results of his exams, the appointments of the head of the Catholic Church scheduled for Thursday have been cancelled, a Vatican source told AFP.

“The Holy Father has been at (Hospital) Gemelli since this afternoon for previously scheduled checks,” Holy See press service director Matteo Bruni said in a statement, without giving further details. .

According to the Italian daily Il Corriere della Sera, the pope was taken by ambulance to the Gemelli hospital for a heart problem.

In the morning, the Argentinian Jesuit, who in mid-March reached the milestone of his 10 years of pontificate, participated as every Wednesday in the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, during which he appeared smiling, greeting the followers of his “papamobile”.

François, who has been in a wheelchair since May 2022 due to chronic knee pain, had already been hospitalized for 10 days at Gemelli Hospital in July 2021 for a major colon operation.

In an interview in January, he hinted that his problems with inflammation of the diverticula – hernias or pockets that form on the walls of the digestive tract – had returned.

Jorge Bergoglio explained that he had “after-effects” of the anesthesia suffered at the time of this intervention, which led him to rule out the possibility of knee surgery so far.

His knee pain, which notably forced him to cancel several appointments in 2022 and to postpone a trip to Africa, is at the heart of conjecture around a possible resignation.

He always left the door open to this scenario, like his predecessor Benedict XVI, who had renounced his charge, taking the whole world by surprise.

In July, François had confided that he would not be able to “travel” at the same pace as before, even mentioning the possibility of “putting himself aside”.

But in February, he ruled that the renunciation of a pope should “not become a fad”, assuring that this hypothesis was “not on his agenda for the moment”.

At the age of 21, Francis nearly died from pleurisy, according to his biographer Austen Ivereigh, and suffered the partial removal of one of his lungs in October 1957.

In a recently published book, he recalled this episode: “I understand how it can feel for people with coronavirus who have to struggle to breathe through artificial respirators”.

He also discussed another operation to remove cysts from his right lung in an interview with renowned Argentinian journalist and physician Nelson Castro, noting that he had “fully recovered” and had “never felt limited since then.” “.

When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, he was treated by a Chinese acupuncturist for his back pain, his biographer also wrote in May in the columns of The Tablet Catholic.

He also suffered from “gallstones” and in 2004 had a “temporary” heart problem due to a slight narrowing of an artery, according to his biographer.

In addition, her liver problems were able to be resolved thanks to a change in her diet.