For the first time since a recent flare-up of pain in his knee hampered his capacity to walk, Pope Francis used a wheelchair in public on Thursday.
Francis was wheeled to his place on the platform during an encounter with a group of nuns in the Vatican’s public audience hall. He was then lifted out of the wheelchair and into his seat by an attendant.
Because of pain in his right knee, the 85-year-old has had to cancel or reduce activities numerous times in the last month.
Before Thursday, he had managed to walk the 10 metres (yards) or so from the side entrance of the stage to his seat at the centre, albeit with help from aides.
Several times over the Easter period last month, Francis attended but did not preside at Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica. In each case, he delegated an archbishop or cardinal to say the Mass while he sat through the service and also read his homily while seated.
The pontiff has said doctors have told him they will be giving him an injection to help the movement of his joints. It is not clear if that therapy has begun.