Pope John Paul II's health has declined considerably since February 1, when he was rushed to Rome's Gemelli Hospital with breathing difficulties brought on by the flu.

The pontiff was discharged 10 days later, but he was taken back to the hospital on February 24 with similar symptoms. Doctors decided to perform a tracheotomy, in which they cut a hole in the pope's neck and inserted a breathing tube.

The pope suffers from Parkinson's disease, which gradually affects control of the muscles, including those of the chest and throat.

Following his throat surgery, the pope stayed in the hospital until March 13. He has made few public appearances since then. In his most recent appearance Wednesday, he was not able to speak when a microphone was put in front of him. Hours later, the Vatican announced that he was being fed through a nasal tube to boost his strength and help him recover from his surgery.

The pope's condition has declined further since then.

Some information for this report provided by AP.