The schedule had called for the Pope to hold his weekly meeting in the courtyard of the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, where he is spending the rest of the summer.

The courtyard can only accommodate about 1,000 people, and requests for participation in the audience are greater. Thus, the Pope has decided to travel to the Vatican so that the audience can be held in Paul VI Hall.

Joaquín Navarro Valls, director of the Vatican press office, said on Vatican Radio: "It is possible that this will also happen in the forthcoming Wednesdays, as we have received many requests" for participation in the audience.

The Holy Father is expected to travel by car from Castel Gandolfo to the Vatican, a trip of some 30 kilometers (18 miles).