Pope John Paul did not recite the rosary in public Saturday night as he usually does, but a Vatican spokesman said there was no cause for alarm for the pontiff's health.

Vatican Radio said the rosary, which the 78-year-old pope usually prays on Vatican Radio on the first Saturday of each month, would be recited instead by a cardinal.A Vatican spokesman said that according to a schedule of the pope's activities issued internally in the Vatican earlier this week, the pope would not be saying the rosary on the radio for the summer months.

He has, however, recited the rosary during past summers.

"This is not something that came up at the last minute. Everything is fine," the spokesman said.

Doctors have told the pope, who has had a series of health problems over the years, to rest more and cut back on non-essential public duties that can be delegated.

The pope usually recites the rosary before a crowd of thousands in the Vatican's modern audience hall. The prayer is broadcast around the world via Vatican Radio and television.

The pope appeared in relatively good health Saturday morning when he addressed a group attending a human rights conference.

He will recite his weekly prayer in St Peter's Square as usual on Sunday, the spokesman said.

The spokesman said the pope would hold his regular general audience Wednesday as planned before taking a two-week private rest break in the northern Italian Dolomites.