Pope Francis waves from a car as he leaves Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on June 16, 2023. VATICAN MEDIA

By Hannah Brockhaus

Catholic News Agency

June 16, 2023

ROME— Pope Francis was discharged from Rome’s Gemelli Hospital to a round of applause on Friday, after an eight-day stay following abdominal surgery.

He greeted hospital staff and other patients as he left the hospital in a wheelchair June 16. Outside the building, the pope was asked how he was doing by media, to whom he said, “I’m still alive!”

According to the Vatican, Pope Francis will lead the Angelus on Sunday as usual and other audiences for the upcoming days will take place.

The pope’s Wednesday morning audience with the public in St. Peter’s Square on June 21 has been canceled, instead, “to safeguard the Holy Father’s postoperative recovery.”

Before returning to the Vatican on Friday, Francis stopped to pray in front of the Salus Populi Romani Marian icon.

The historic icon is kept in a chapel in the Basilica of St. Mary Major. Pope Francis has also stopped there after previous hospitalizations and visits the icon before and after every international trip.

On his approach to the Vatican, he made a quick private visit to a group of religious sisters who run a guesthouse next to St. Peter’s Square.

The Italian Istituto Santissima Maria Bambina (“Institute of the Most Holy Child Mary”) is currently holding its general chapter meeting in Rome.

The pope also thanked the law enforcement who guard the entrance to the Vatican.

According to daily updates from the Vatican, the 86-year-old Pope Francis has been recovering normally after undergoing a three-hour surgery to repair an incisional hernia on June 7.

A team of surgeons removed scar tissue and operated on a hernia in the pope’s abdominal wall at the site of a previous surgical incision.

The June 7-16 stay was Pope Francis’ third hospitalization in the past two years.

He was hospitalized for four days in March for a lung infection and had part of his large intestine removed in July 2021 due to diverticulitis.


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