Pope Francis, who has been suffering from a "light flu" for several days, made a brief visit to hospital on Wednesday for tests, the Vatican said.

The 87-year-old went to the Gemelli hospital on Rome's Tiber island after attending his general audience at the Vatican, where he asked someone else to read his text.

"Dear brothers and sisters, I still have a bit of a cold and for this reason I asked (an official) to read today's catechesis," the pontiff said.

The Vatican had on Monday cancelled the pope's public meetings, as he had on Saturday, due to continued "light flu symptoms".

But Francis delivered Sunday's Angelus prayer as normal.

After Wednesday's audience, "Pope Francis went to the Gemelli Isola Tiberina hospital for some diagnostic tests. Afterwards he returned to the Vatican," the Holy See said.

An AFP reporter saw the pope's white Fiat 500 car leaving the hospital around 12:00pm (1100 GMT), under police escort.

Pope Francis, who had part of a lung removed in his youth, was forced to cancel a visit to the COP28 UN climate talks in Dubai in December after a bout of flu-like symptoms.

The Argentine pontiff, who took over as head of the Catholic Church in 2013, has suffered a number of health issues in recent years, from knee and hip pain to an inflamed colon and hernia surgery last June.