Apologizing for missing his late June visit to the patients and staff at Rome's Gemelli Hospital, Pope Francis explained that a headache he'd had since morning suddenly worsened and he became nauseated, forcing him to cancel the visit at the last minute.
"I hoped it would pass," he said in a video message the Vatican released Sunday. "I really wanted my meeting with you, but as you well know, we are not the masters of our lives and cannot do everything we want."
"We must accept fragility," the 77-year-old pope said.
Pope Francis said he appreciated all of the effort that people had put into planning for his visit June 27 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the hospital and the connected faculty of medicine and surgery of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart.
Fragility, he said, is something the patients know well.
"Cultivate in your prayer a taste for the things of God," he told them. "Be witnesses that our strength is in God alone."
Those who experience fragility, he said, are the best people to show others that the most precious things in life are "the Gospel and the merciful love of the Father, not money or power. In fact, even someone the world considers important cannot add a single day to his own life."
It was the fifth time since December that Pope Francis had canceled previously scheduled public meetings because he was not feeling well.