The pope celebrates a mass in Malta before thousands of faithful

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At least 12,000 people gathered in Malta on Sunday for the open-air mass of Pope Francis, who appeared again weakened by knee pain.

The pontiff arrived shortly before 10 a.m. (0800 GMT) in his popemobile and was greeted at Floriana’s Granary Square, near the capital Valletta, by cheering crowds, stopping several times to bless to children and babies.

“Yesterday I saw him very tired (…) I think he is suffering. He is already old and the schedule is very tight for him,” Anna Balzan, a 67-year-old Maltese woman who came with her daughter and her three children, told AFP. grandchildren.

On his shoulders, he carried a Vatican flag that he has had since the visit of John Paul II in 1990.

From the beginning of the two-day visit to Malta, Francisco, 85, appeared especially weakened by his joint problems, which recently forced him to cancel commitments.

For the first time, he had to use a lifting platform to get on and off his plane on Saturday.

Before the mass, the pontiff visited the grotto of San Pablo on Sunday in the town of Rabat.

It is one of the main places of pilgrimage on the island, which his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI had already visited.

From the grotto Francis asked for the same welcome for migrants as the one that, according to Christian tradition, Saint Paul received when he was shipwrecked in the year 60 off the coast of Malta.

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