Pope in Good Shape After Day of Rest

( [email protected] ) Oct 26, 2003 10:57 PM EST

VATICAN CITY – Several thousands admirers cheered the Pope John Paul II as he celebrated the birth of an Italian saint with a speech, Saturday, October 25.

"Dearest brothers and sisters," the Pontiff said in a comparatively strong voice. "I am please to offer my cordial welcome to all of you, gathered in Rome for the solemn celebration of the fourth centenary of the birth of St. Joseph of Copertino."

After reading the introductory passage, a Vatican priest took over the remainder of the speech, as he has often done lately; in the past week, the pope handed over the speeches he prepared for the beatification of Mother Teresa and the ordination of cardinals in their entirety.

According to the pope’s spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, an afternoon mass was dropped from John Paul’s schedule on Friday, to"lighten his schedule after such a busy week.”

The 83-year-old pontiff suffers from Parkinson's disease among other ailments.