VATICAN CITY:  A badly limping Pope Francis again appealed for an end to the war in Ukraine on Wednesday, as he held his general audience a day after a fresh flare-up of knee pain forced him to abruptly cancel all activities.

Francis, 85, arrived in St. Peter's Square sitting in an open popemobile, which drove him to just behind a platform facing the crowd of several thousand.

He walked slowly and with a pronounced limp while holding the arm of an aide to his seat about 10 metres (yards) away.

"I apologise because I will greet you while seated. The healing of this knee seems to be never ending and I can't stand for long periods," he said at the end of the audience about an hour later, before people he would normally go to greet came to him instead.

During Easter, he several times attended but did not preside at Masses in St. Peter's Basilica. In each case, he delegated an archbishop or cardinal to say the Mass while he sat through the service and also read his homily while seated.

Apart from the knee problem, Francis also suffers from sciatica, which causes pain in the legs.

Addressing one group during the audience, he asked for prayers for an end to the war in Ukraine, which he has often condemned since Russia launched its invasion.

"May the weapons fall silent, so that those who have the power to stop the war hear the cry for peace coming from all of humanity," he said.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by John Stonestreet)