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Pope Francis returns to work following health fears

by AP Reporter

Looking tired but relaxed, Pope Francis has led his first major public ceremony since health problems forced a spate of cancelled appointments.

Francis (77) appeared to hold up well during the 90-minute Mass in St Peter's Basilica to honour saints Peter and Paul.

The Vatican has played down the cancellations, attributing them without elaboration to some mild health problem.

Francis, often chuckling, chatted with each of 24 archbishops before him to receive a white woollen band symbolising shared episcopal power.

He later addressed the faithful gathered in St Peter's Square and appealed for Iraq's leaders to save the nation from further warfare.

Francis then did what he has started doing recently when greeting the public – asking for prayers for him, too. "Please don't forget to pray for me," he said.

The Vatican insisted: "There are no reasons to worry about the pope's health."

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