Published February 3, 2005
Pope John Paul II was taken to a Rome hospital late Feb. 1 with severe breathing problems caused by an inflammation in his throat, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told reporters in a statement issued at midnight.
The pope, 84, came down with the flu Jan. 30.
About 10:50 p.m. Feb. 1 he was rushed to the Gemelli hospital for what Navarro-Valls called “acute laryngeal tracheitis and a crisis of laryngeal spasms.”
When he arrived there he did not need intensive care treatment and was admitted to his 10th-floor room where he has stayed on previous hospital visits, Navarro-Valls said.
Because of advancing Parkinson’s disease, Pope John Paul has chronic difficulty breathing, complicating the possible effects of the flu and the inflammation of his throat. Laryngeal spasms make breathing more difficult.
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls announced earlier Feb. 1 that the pope had canceled scheduled meetings that day and his Wednesday general audience the next day. He said the flu was running its natural course.
When the pope appeared at his apartment window overlooking St. Peter’s Square to lead the Sunday noon Angelus Jan. 31, his voice was hoarse, but it did not stop him from greeting visitors in the square below.
He enjoyed a laugh with them when he tried to release two doves as symbols of peace, but they just settled on the windowsill. When he picked one up to launch it into the air, it turned around and flew back into the window. The pope grinned widely and threw up his hands in defeat.
Like thousands of people in Italy’s Lazio region, which includes Rome, Pope John Paul II came down with the flu in late January and was advised to rest for several days.
Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini and Navarro-Valls insisted the pope had only a “light” bout of the flu, but accepted his doctor’s advice to rest.