Pope Francis visits pediatric oncology ward at hospital, baptizes newborn baby

Pope Francis visits pediatric oncology ward at hospital, baptizes newborn baby

Pope Francis visits the pediatric oncology ward of Gemelli Hospital during his own hospital stay on March 31, 2023. VATICAN MEDIA

By Catholic News Agency

April 1, 2023

ROME— While staying at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital where he is undergoing treatment for bronchitis, Pope Francis paid a visit Friday to the pediatric oncology ward and baptized a newborn patient.

The Holy See reported that the Holy Father spent about half an hour in the ward, where he distributed “rosaries, chocolate eggs, and copies of the book ‘Jesus Was Born in Bethlehem of Judah.’”

Photos released by Vatican Media show the pope speaking with mothers accompanying their babies, writing a message, and baptizing a newborn baby.

“During the visit, which lasted about half an hour, the pope imparted the sacrament of baptism to a baby named Miguel Angel, who was only a few weeks old. At the end he returned to his department,” the Vatican press office said.

When Pope Francis underwent surgery for diverticulitis in July 2021, he visited the pediatric oncology ward. And in his first outing after that surgery, young cancer patients joined him as he led the Sunday Angelus from a balcony on the 10th floor of the hospital.

The Vatican said Friday that Pope Francis may be discharged from the hospital on Saturday after responding well to treatments yesterday.

In two brief statements in the early afternoon of March 31, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni also said Pope Francis is scheduled to be present at the Vatican’s Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square on April 2.

Pope Francis was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on Wednesday afternoon with difficulty breathing. He was later diagnosed with bronchitis.

“Yesterday passed well, with a normal clinical progression,” Bruni said around 12:30 p.m. on Friday.

“In the evening Pope Francis had dinner, eating pizza together with those assisting him during his hospital stay,” the Holy See Press Office director said. “With the Holy Father were the doctors, nurses, assistants and Gendarmerie personnel.”

On the morning of March 31, the pope had breakfast, read the newspapers, and resumed work, he said, adding that “His Holiness is expected to return to his Santa Marta home tomorrow, upon the outcome of the results of the last tests this morning.”


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