Pope Francis thanked the faithful who prayed for him during his hospitalization this week. During the Liturgy on Palm Sunday, an important event in the Christian calendar that marks the beginning of Passion Week, he said the Angelus prayer.
“I greet you all, Romanians and pilgrims, especially those who have come from afar. Thank you for your participation and also for your prayers over the last few days. Thank you!”, the 86-year-old pontiff told the crowd, the day after he was discharged from the hospital.
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On Sunday morning, he greeted the crowd as he walked through St. Peter’s Square, decorated with over 35,000 plants and flowers. On board his popemobile, he had a serious air before taking part in this ceremony, in front of 60,000 people.
The pontiff left Rome’s Gemelli hospital on Saturday after three nights, appearing to be in good shape. “I’m still alive,” he joked, smiling at journalists and worshipers gathered around the hospital who asked him how he was feeling, reports AFP, according to News.ro.
The leader of 1.3 billion Catholics has suffered for years from increasing health problems, including knee pain that forces him to use a wheelchair and a cane.
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On Palm Sunday and at Easter Masses, he is expected to remain seated while a cardinal conducts the ceremony at the altar. According to the Holy See, this arrangement was decided before his hospitalization, the Argentine pontiff not being able to stand for long.
The Sovereign Pontiff has health problems
On Wednesday, the Vatican announced that he would go to the Gemelli Hospital for scheduled check-ups, before admitting that he had difficulty breathing and was suffering from a “respiratory infection” that required medical treatment with antibiotics. It is his second hospitalization since 2021, when he underwent colon surgery, also at the Gemelli hospital.
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Pope Francis marked ten years at the head of the Catholic Church in early March. He made major governance reforms and sought to create a more open and compassionate church, although he faced internal opposition, particularly from conservatives.
He has repeatedly said he would consider stepping down — like his predecessor Benedict XVI, who died in December — if his health deteriorated, but recently said that was not on the table.
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His previous stay at Gemelli, in July 2021, lasted ten days. He was admitted there for a major colon operation. He claims that he kept the “sequelae” from the anesthesia, which led him to rule out knee surgery until now.
During an interview in January, Jorge Bergoglio confessed again that he suffers from diverticulosis. The Pope is constantly monitored by a team of caretakers, both at the Vatican and when he travels abroad.
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A precaution all the more necessary since he has a problematic medical history behind him: at 21 years old, he almost died of pleurisy and suffered the partial extirpation of a lung.
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