The Holy See announced that Pope Francis’ activities today have been canceled due to a minor cold, and that his weekend visit to a Roman shrine is also postponed so he can rest before going to the Holy Land. In a brief statement given to journalists May 16, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi reassured that the Pope’s condition is not serious, and that he celebrated Mass this morning as always, but has taken the rest of the day off in order to rest. “The Pope celebrated Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae with the faithful this morning as usual, but has postponed the audiences scheduled for this morning due to a minor indisposition.” Fr. Lombardi also made a short statement yesterday revealing that the pontiff’s planned Sunday visit to the Sanctuary of Divine Love has been postponed in order to “lighten up” his load so that he can prepare for his upcoming pilgrimage to Jordan, Israel and Palestine which takes place next week. Slated to occur the afternoon of May 18, the spokesman explained that Pope Francis’ visit to the shrine will be rescheduled, although there is currently no date in mind. Officially known as the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love, the sanctuary lies just south of Rome and dates back to the eight century when it was a fortress called Castel di Leva. On top of one of the castle’s towers was an image of Mary portrayed as sitting on a throne with the Child Jesus. Above Mary’s head is a dove descending on her as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, who is Divine Love. The frescoed image was highly venerated during the time and several miracles have been attributed to it, including a man who was saved from wild dogs after crying out to the Virgin Mary for protection upon seeing the image. Despite Pope’s cold and the postponement of his visit to the sanctuary, Fr. Lombardi revealed that the pontiff’s other scheduled events for the weekend will still occur, which include two audiences Saturday and his weekly Regina Ceoli address Sunday at 12.
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