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Pope Francis is improving and will be discharged from hospital on Saturday, Vatican says

Pope Francis was cleared by doctors on Saturday from the hospital in Rome where he was treated for bronchitis, the Vatican said, adding that the pontiff ate pizza one evening with medical staff and baptized a baby in the pediatric ward.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni, in one of several Friday updates, also said Francis would be in St. Peter’s Square for Palm Sunday Mass at the start of Holy Week, although He did not specify whether the pontiff would deliver the homily during the particularly long service.

“The medical team following His Holiness Pope Francis, after evaluating the results of the tests carried out today and the favorable clinical recovery, confirmed his discharge” on Saturday, Bruni said in a written statement Friday evening.

Pope Francis greets a child patient at Policlinico Gemelli Hospital in Rome, Italy, where he is staying due to a respiratory infection.

Holy See Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Francis, 86, was hospitalized on Wednesday at the Gemelli Polyclinic, where doctors said the pontiff was receiving intravenous antibiotics to treat his bronchitis.

Calling the pontiff’s medical recovery “normal”, Bruni said earlier in the day that on Thursday evening, “Pope Francis had dinner, ate pizza, with all those assisting him in these days of hospitalization”, including including doctors, nurses, assistants and Vatican security personnel.

Given the pope’s return to the Vatican hotel where he lives, the spokesman said he must be present in the square for Palm Sunday Mass, which officially begins Holy Week which culminates with Mass Easter in the square on April 9.

Medical staff decided to hospitalize him on Wednesday after he returned to his residence in the Vatican after his usual weekly public audience in St. Peter’s Square. The Vatican reported that he had had difficulty breathing in previous days.

The Vatican said on Thursday that antibiotic treatment for bronchitis resulted in a “marked” improvement in his condition.

In a video released by the Vatican, Francis was seen baptizing a hospitalized baby who was a few weeks old.

After the mother tells Francis the boy’s name, Miguel Angel, the pope uses a metal hospital tray usually used to hold syringes to pour water over the sleeping baby’s head, then tries to comfort the baby. child, who wakes up, moaning and seeming to try to crush the pope’s hand.

François then asked the mother to dry her son’s wet forehead. He then said to him: “When you go to your parish, say that the pope baptized him.

Francis was smiling and looking happier as he visited children being treated at Gemelli for cancer and handed out large wrapped chocolate Easter eggs.

Earlier today, Francis sent out a tweet on Friday, perhaps inspired by his current health condition.

“Lived with faith, the trials and difficulties of life serve to purify our hearts, making them more humble and therefore more and more open to God,” Francis wrote. The tweet carried a hashtag for Lent, the liturgical time of year emphasizing penance and sacrifice ahead of the Church’s joyous celebration of Easter, which marks the Christian belief that Jesus is raised from the dead after his crucifixion.

The Vatican seemed eager to quickly dispel any concerns about the pope’s physical fitness to fully discharge his duties. Almost immediately after announcing a release date for Francis, the Vatican announced that the pope would meet the prime minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina in a private audience at the Apostolic Palace on Monday.

The Palm Sunday mass usually attracts tens of thousands of faithful, including many foreign pilgrims, who flock to Rome for Holy Week.

Francis had already largely stopped celebrating Mass on the main holy days of the Catholic Church due to a chronic knee problem, but continued to preside over ceremonies and give homilies.

Holy Week appointments include a late-night Stations of the Cross procession marked by prayers on Good Friday at the Colosseum in Rome and Easter Mass on April 9, which is traditionally followed by a lengthy papal speech delivered from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

During Wednesday’s hour-long public hearing, Francis sometimes appeared to be visibly in pain as he moved around and was helped by aides.

In July 2021, Francis underwent surgery at the Gemelli Polyclinic after suffering from a narrowing of the colon. As a young man in Argentina, Francis had part of a lung removed.


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