Pope Francis leaves hospital after treatment for bronchitis, quips: ‘I’m still alive’
ROME – Pope Francis left hospital and returned to the Vatican on Saturday after being treated for bronchitis, waving to well-wishers and journalists waiting for him as he was driven away.
“I wasn’t frightened. I’m still alive,” he told reporters in a light-hearted comment outside the hospital before he left.
Journalists were kept far from the Pope when he last left hospital in 2021 following surgery on his colon.
This time, looking to show the world that he was fully recovered, he got out of his car on his way out, greeting well-wishers and talking to waiting reporters. He used a walking stick to support himself.
The Pope embraced a couple whose daughter died overnight in the hospital and prayed with them, and also signed the plaster cast of a young boy with a broken arm.
He waved from the window of his car as he was driven back to the Vatican.
Pope Francis, 86, was taken to Rome’s Gemelli hospital on Wednesday after complaining of breathing difficulties.
He has responded well to an infusion of antibiotics, his medical team has said.
The Pope, who marked the 10th anniversary of his pontificate in March, has suffered a number of ailments in recent years.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni confirmed on Friday that the pontiff was expected to take part in this weekend’s service for Palm Sunday – a major event in the Church calendar that kicks off Easter week celebrations.
Holy Week, as it is known, includes a busy schedule of rituals and ceremonies that can be physically exhausting, including a Good Friday night-time procession by Rome’s Colosseum.
The dean of the college of cardinals, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, has said a cardinal would help the Pope during the week’s celebrations and take care of altar duties.
A similar arrangement was put in place in 2022, when the Pope sat to one side during some Easter events due to persistent knee pain, leaving it to senior cardinals to lead the masses. — REUTERS