A wheelchair-bound Pope Francis was pictured being helped to his feet outside the Vatican Wednesday — after his recent health woes and canceled events sparked speculation he is planning to resign.
The frail 85-year-old was spotted gripping onto two of his aides as they helped him out of his seat — and back into his wheelchair — after holding his weekly audience with the public in St. Peter’s Square.
The Pontiff remained in his wheelchair at a different event at the Vatican later on Wednesday.
It comes after rumors continued to swirl that Francis, who was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio and was elected to the papacy in March 2013, was close to retiring amid his worsening mobility issues.
The Argentine-born Pope has been using a wheelchair and cane for months after he developed knee issues.
His health has apparently been on the decline since he was hospitalized last July to have part of his colon removed.
He has been open about his health struggles of late, saying as recently as last week that the elderly must accept their physical limitations.
“When we are old, we cannot do the same things we did when we were young: The body has another pace, and we must listen to the body and accept its limits,” he told his general audience address.
“We all have them. I too have to use a walking stick now.”