Pope Francis is expected to be released from hospital in Rome on Saturday, where he is being treated for bronchitis while his recovery is progressing “normally”, even had pizza for dinner and will be in St. Peter’s Square for Palm Sunday mass, the Vatican said.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni provided the update in a written statement on Friday. In a subsequent statement, Bruni said Francis was to be in the square for Mass, which marks the beginning of Holy Week and ushers in a series of solemn public ceremonies culminating on Easter on April 9.
Francis, 86, was hospitalized at Gemelli Polyclinic on Wednesday, where doctors said the pope was receiving antibiotics intravenously to treat his bronchitis.
“Everything went well yesterday, with a normal clinical recovery,” Bruni said. “In the evening (Thursday) Pope Francis ate a pizza together with all those who help him during these days of hospitalization. said the spokesman, including Vatican doctors, nurses, assistants and security personnel.
On Friday morning, the Pope read the newspapers and returned to work after breakfast.
POPE FRANCIS “PROGRESSIVE IMPROVEMENT” WORKS OUT OF HOSPITAL WITHIN TREATMENT OF RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTIONS
The Pope’s return to the Vatican Hotel, where he lives, “is expected for tomorrow based on the latest tests this morning,” Bruni said.
The spokesman later added that given that the pope would return to the Vatican on Saturday, Francis was expected in the square for Palm Sunday mass. He did not specify whether Francis would preach a sermon during the ceremony, a particularly lengthy service, or if someone else could read it for him.
Medical staff decided to hospitalize him on Wednesday after he returned to his Vatican residence after his usual weekly public audience in St. Peter’s Square. The Vatican reported he had had trouble breathing in the days before.
Bruni said Thursday night that antibiotic treatment for bronchitis has resulted in a “significant” improvement in his health.
Francis sent a tweet on Friday that may have been inspired by his current health challenge.
POPE FRANCIS IS TAKEN INTO HOSPITAL FOR ‘RESPIRATORY INFECTION’, WILL NEED TREATMENT
“If we experience them with faith, the trials and difficulties of life serve to purify our hearts, to make them more humble and therefore more open to God,” wrote Francis. The tweet included a hashtag for Lent, the time of the liturgical year that emphasizes penance and sacrifice in the run-up to the church’s joyful celebration of Easter, which marks the Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after being crucified.
The Vatican seemed keen to quickly dispel any concerns about the Pope’s physical fitness to exercise his full office. Almost immediately after announcing a release date for Francis, the Vatican announced that the pope would meet the Prime Minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina for a private audience at the Apostolic Palace on Monday.
The hospitalization came four days ahead of the outdoor Palm Sunday mass, which usually draws tens of thousands of believers who flock to Rome ahead of Easter.
Francis had already largely stopped celebrating Mass on major Catholic Church holidays because of a chronic knee problem, but continued to preside at ceremonies and preach homilies.
Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re said Friday that Francis could lead Holy Week ceremonies but not celebrate.
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Holy Week appointments include a sustained nightly Stations of the Cross procession with prayers on Good Friday at the Colosseum in Rome and the Easter Mass at 9 St. Peter’s Basilica.
During Wednesday’s hour-long public audience, Francis appeared to be in visible pain at times when moving and being helped by aides.
In July 2021, Francis underwent surgery at Gemelli Polyclinic after suffering from a narrowing of his colon. As a young man in Argentina, Francis had part of a lung removed.
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