Pope's weakness can also be a sign of strength

His forehead smeared with the traditional mark of mortality, &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/cis/2002/05/23/29137.html ' target=_blank>Pope John Paul celebrated Ash Wednesday in his hospital room, missing public prayers opening the Lenten season of fasting and reflection for the first time in 26 years.

The frail 84-year-old Pope, surrounded by his personal physician and other doctors treating him for the flu and breathing trouble, held mass in his tightly guarded suite at Rome's Gemelli Polyclinic. Ash Wednesday is a day with special resonance for believers getting the biblical reminder: "You have come from dust and to dust you shall return."

John Paul received ashes he had blessed earlier during Wednesday's ceremony at the hospital, where he was rushed on Feb. 1 with throat spasms. The Pope invited his personal doctor, Renato Buzzonetti, and others to join him, papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said, says CBC News.

According to the News24, a &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/society/2003/03/17/44505.html' target=_blank>child cancer patient at the hospital where Pope John Paul II is recovering from a respiratory illness enjoyed a special audience with the pontiff on Wednesday, hospital officials said.

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