Pope Francis was filmed appearing in good spirits as he greeted worshippers today, despite alarm bells going off when a close cardinal tested positive for coronavirus.
Luis Antonio Tagle, a 63-year-old cardinal from the Philippines, met in private with the Pope on August 29 and tested positive for the virus 11 days later.
In response, the Vatican said the 83-year old pontiff is being “constantly monitored” for the disease.
“We are being prudent,” Secretary of State Pietro Parolin told ANSA news agency.
He added that there is “no particular alarm”, but Pope Francis’ health was being “constantly monitored” as a precaution.
In a clip from Vatican City today, September 16, the Pope greets a massive crowd of Catholics at his General Audience and reaches out to sign photographs and speak with them.
Christians in the crowd wear face coverings, but Pope Francis does not.
He does not kiss and touch people as he has done in the past and instead asks people their names and offers to bless objects that they bring him.
One women holds out her Rosary beads and another offers a crucifix.
Although a General Audience is not the same as a mass, the Pope will give a themed speech and lead prayers.
Previously, the Pope was tested for the coronavirus in March when a clergyman living in the same residence and three Vatican staff members tested positive.
Neither Pope Francis nor his close aides were found to have the virus at the time.
He is at particular risk both because of his advanced age and a severe lung infection he had when he was younger.
Earlier this month, the Pope blasted gossiping as a “worse plague than Covid-19” and said it was the Devil’s tool for dividing people who should be friends.
He also said that sex and food were “divine” pleasures gifted to humanity from God.
Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and is the first-ever Pope from South America.
His birth name was Jorge Mario Bergoglio and he chose Francis as his papal name in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi.