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Pope out with cold, cancels morning audiences

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NICOLE WINFIELD | November 15, 2013 07:52 AM EST | AP

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis canceled his morning audiences Friday because of a cold, the first time the industrious pope is known to have slowed his busy schedule due to illness.

The 76-year-old pontiff, who lost most of one of his lungs due to an infection in his youth, was eating and resting comfortably at his hotel, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi told The Associated Press.

Francis canceled four appointments with Vatican officials, forcing the Vatican to reissue its daily bulletin which had reported that the audiences took place. Francis, however, planned to preside over a Mass later Friday in St. Peter's Basilica to ordain a new bishop, as scheduled.

Francis had a busy day on Thursday, making his first state visit to the Italian president across town. He appeared tired but otherwise in good spirits during the two-hour visit.

The Vatican typically restricts information about the health of its popes, citing their privacy. The Holy See only confirmed that Pope John Paul II suffered from Parkinson's disease after he died.

The German Pope Benedict XVI enjoyed robust health during his seven-year pontificate, only missing a scheduled appearance after he broke his wrist in a fall in 2009.

Francis doesn't enjoy such good health. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as he was known then, had wanted to be a missionary as a young priest but was counseled against it by his superior in Argentina because of the toll it would have taken on his frail health.

To this day, Francis speaks softly — barely over a whisper — and doesn't sing.

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Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield