The pope appeared at his studio window Wednesday but did not speak to the crowd in Saint Peter's Square. The Vatican had already said the general audience was canceled, but Roman Catholics were reassured when they saw the Pope appear.
The pope looked tired when he appeared at his studio window overlooking Saint Peter's Square. He did not speak but blessed the faithful gathered, which included a group of Polish pilgrims.
The Vatican announced his appearance half an hour before the pope came to the window but pilgrims were already in the square. They were looking for reassurance about the pope's condition following widespread reports that his health has deteriorated even further in recent days.
The Vatican had already confirmed that the pope would not be holding his traditional Wednesday general audience.
According to Italian media reports, the pope's recovery from throat surgery is not going as well as had been hoped.
Concerns have been mounting over his true condition. He is believed to have suffered a set-back since his return from the hospital, ten days ago.
Reports in the Italian media said the pope has not been responding well to medications. According to aides who visit the papal apartment, he has been undergoing difficulties in his convalescence.
The pope is finding it difficult to eat and to improve his speaking with the tube that was inserted following tracheotomy, a month ago.
Quoting unnamed sources, an Italian news agency reported Tuesday evening that he was vomiting and suffering from strong headaches. It added that his general condition was weak.
The Vatican has issued no details of the pope's medical condition since his return from the hospital, March 13. But the head of his medical team, Professor Roberto Proietti, has ruled out that the pope may be sent back to the hospital for the third time this year.
The pope's last appearance on Palm Sunday - during which he did not utter a word - further raised concerns about his condition. It was the first time in his long papacy that the pope did not preside over the first ceremony of Holy Week.
The Vatican has said senior cardinals will stand in for him for the other Holy Week services. It now appears increasingly unlikely the Pope will be present at the Coliseum for the Way of the Cross procession, on Good Friday.
The only confirmed public appearance by the pope has been set for Easter Sunday. The Vatican has said he will deliver his "Urbi et Orbi" blessing, although he will not lead Easter mass.