For the first time in his papacy, John Paul II has handed the reading of Sunday’s traditional Angelus prayers to an aide.
While a blessing is delivered from St Peter’s Basilica on his behalf, the Pontiff will remain in Rome’s Gemelli hospital, where he is recovering from a throat operation.
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls visited earlier, as did the speaker in Italy’s lower house of parliament, Pierferdinando Casini.
While no formal health bulletin is expected until Monday, Casini described the atmosphere inside as one of “hope and tranquility”.
As the stream of well-wishers continued it emerged that the Pope is unlikely to appear tomorrow but will apparently follow the service, probably on television.
When he was in hospital earlier this month, he was well enough to sit at his window and deliver the blessing himself.