The Vatican says Pope John Paul II is in stable condition and will spend a few more days in a Rome hospital. The 84-year-old pontiff was rushed to Gemelli Polyclinic late Tuesday, after suffering breathing problems related to the flu.


In a statement, the Vatican says the pontiff was given emergency therapy overnight that included assistance with his breathing. A spokesman told reporters the Pope has an inflammation of the trachea. Meanwhile, Catholics around the world are praying for his recovery.


The Pope's hospitalization was the lead story in Italian newspapers Wednesday morning.


The Pope, who suffers from severe arthritis and Parkinson's disease, became sick with the flu Sunday. He appeared at his studio window that day, one of the coldest this winter in Rome, to release a pair of doves into St. Peter's Square. He was forced to cancel all his engagements the next few days.


Members of Rome's Polish community gathered Wednesday at Saint Stanizlav's Church to pray for the pontiff, as did Catholics at a church in Krakow, in the Pope's native Poland.


At Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, worshippers lit candles.


Father Richard Kenpak said, "I am from Poland, from the land of the Pope, and we in Poland are always very close (to) the Pope, and we pray always (for him)."


Catholics also gathered in Mexico City's central cathedral for prayer services.


In Nairobi, Kenya, Bonnie Kasunga, who once met the Pope, offered her best wishes. "That's why we are coming here, this particular hour, to offer the prayers for him. And like in my case, because he has blessed me personally with his hands, blessed my child, my first-born. I am really touched about it, and I want to see that he comes round from his sickness in the hospital, and comes back to the church again" she said.


John Paul, Polish-born and the first non-Italian pontiff in more than 450 years, is the longest-serving Pope in more than a century.