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Pope Francis health fears grow as Vatican forced to cancel three events at short notice

The 84-year-old will not deliver Mass on Sunday, nor evening prayer at the St Paul's Basilica. A meeting with the diplomatic corps to the Holy See on Monday will also be rescheduled. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the cancellation of the events was "due to a recurrence of sciatica".

It is often caused by a slipped disc in the spine

The Pope was left paralysed for several days by the condition in 2007.

His sciatica is also the reason why he has an uneven walking gait.

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He has tried to alleviate the side effects of the sciatica through massage treatments and through the services of a physiotherapist.

The latest flareup of Francis’ sciatica raises questions about his planned March 3-8 trip to Iraq.

The visit had already been questioned by some due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Papal trips are gruelling under any circumstances.

Typically they involve many appointments each day, long Masses and reception lines, as well as multiple transfers via car and plane.after he was forced to cancel three events over the coming days.

In a statement he said: "Because of the return of sciatica, the celebration of the Mass tomorrow morning (Jan 24) will not be presided over by the Holy Father, but by Archbishop Rino Fisichella.”

However, Mr Bruni confirmed that Pope Francis would still perform the Angelus blessing at noon on Sunday, suggesting that his condition is not too serious this time round.

Pope Francis has suffered from sciatica, a painful nerve condition, for many decades.

Sciatica can cause severe pain in the lower body, as a result of the compression of nerve roots that run from the lower spine down the thigh.

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