Pope Francis returns to the Vatican after 3 days in the hospital
Pope Francis prays in front of the Salus Populi Romani icon at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome after leaving the Gemelli Hospital on April 1, 2023. VATICAN MEDIA
By Courtney Mares
Catholic News Agency
April 1, 2023
VATICAN— Pope Francis was discharged from the hospital Saturday morning after a three-night stay in Rome’s Gemelli Hospital.
Before departing by car, the pope greeted the crowd gathered outside of the hospital. In an emotional moment, he stopped to embrace and pray with a sobbing mother whose 5-year-old daughter died in the hospital the night before.
When asked by a journalist how he was feeling, the pope quipped: “Still alive!”
A Vatican statement on April 1 said that the pope spoke to the hospital administrators as well as the team of doctors and medical staff who treated him before leaving the hospital around 10:30 a.m. local time.
Pope Francis’ first stop before returning to Vatican City was to pray in the Roman Basilica of St. Mary Major, where he entrusted the sick children he met at the hospital as well as all who are sick and suffering from illnesses to the care of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Pope Francis was released from the hospital one day before the start of Holy Week. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said that the pope is expected to be present at Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square on April 2.
The 86-year-old pope was admitted to the hospital on March 29 with difficulty breathing. He was later diagnosed with bronchitis. His condition improved after receiving antibiotic infusion therapy, according to the Vatican.
While being treated in the hospital’s papal medical suite, the pope read the newspaper, did some work, and even shared a pizza dinner together with some of the medical staff.
On his last full day at Gemelli, Pope Francis visited the pediatric oncology ward, where he gave out rosaries and chocolate Easter eggs to the children. The pope also baptized a baby named Miguel Angel, who was only a few weeks old.
Gemelli is the same hospital where Pope Francis was hospitalized for 10 days in July 2021 when he underwent surgery on his colon for diverticulitis, or inflammation of the intestinal wall.
In an interview with the Associated Press in January, Pope Francis disclosed that the diverticulitis had “returned.” At the time, the pope — who traveled to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in late January — insisted he was in relatively good condition.
Pope Francis recovered from bronchitis in the papal medical suite situated on the 10th floor of Gemelli University Hospital in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies.
It is the same hospital suite where John Paul II was treated throughout his pontificate, including after being shot in an assassination attempt in 1981.
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