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Pope skips procession and takes it easy ahead of busy 1-day trip to Calabria on Saturday

Pope Francis has skipped an annual procession to a Roman basilica as he takes it easy ahead of a grueling 1-day trip to Calabria this weekend.

The Vatican has denied media speculation that the 77-year-old Francis is sick. News reports have zeroed in on the fact that Francis, who only has one full lung, canceled his general audiences for July. Francis canceled his audiences in July last year as well, as have popes for years during the hot summer months.

That said, Francis appears to have taken to heart advice expressed privately by some aides that he should cut back his frantic work pace, particularly to rest up before big events.

On Thursday, he decided to skip the 1.5 kilometer (mile-long) procession from one Roman basilica to another.