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Pope Francis cancels three more appearances after a flareup of sciatica

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By Euronews  with AP
Pope Francis has spoken openly about his sciatica in the past
Pope Francis has spoken openly about his sciatica in the past   -   Copyright  Gregorio Borgia/AP   -  

Pope Francis has decided to cancel three upcoming appearances after a flareup of nerve pain in his back, the Vatican has said. 

The 84-year-old will still go ahead with the Angelus blessing at noon on Sunday, but he will not deliver Mass, nor evening prayer, at St Paul's Basilica. A meeting with the diplomatic corps to the Holy See on Monday will also be rescheduled. 

These three events will not see the pope's participation "due to a recurrence of sciatica," Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said on Saturday evening. 

Sciatica, a form of pain caused by something pressing the sciatic nerve, can affect a person's lower back, through to their legs. It is often caused by a slipped disc in the spine. 

This is not the first time Francis has cancelled appearances due to nerve pain - he was forced to skip New Year's ceremonies a few weeks ago due to a flareup, prompting concern about an upcoming international trip. 

The pope is due to visit Iraq between March 3 and 8 - but such visits are tiring under any circumstances, with many appointments each day, along with long Masses and reception lines, and multiple transfers via car and plane. 

There have also been questions about the trip regarding the state of the coronavirus pandemic.