Pope Francis was released Saturday from a Rome hospital where he was being treated for bronchitis, quipping to reporters before being taken away: “I’m still alive.”
Francis, 86, was admitted to Jemeli Polyclinic on Wednesday after reportedly experiencing breathing difficulties following his weekly public audience. The pontiff was treated with intravenous antibiotics, the Vatican said.
Before leaving, Francis had an emotional moment with a Roman couple whose 5-year-old daughter died Friday night in hospital. Serena Subania, Angelica’s mother, sobbed, pressing her head to the chest of the Pope, who put his hand on the woman’s head.
Francis seemed to want to stick with the well-wishers. When the boy showed him his plaster cast, Pope made a gesture as if to ask, “Do you have a pen?” A papal aide handed one to Francis, and the Pope autographed the cast.
The pontiff responded in a near whisper as reporters peppered him with questions, revealing he had chest pains, a symptom that convinced his medical staff to take him to hospital on Wednesday.
Francis was sitting in the front seat of a white Fiat 500 car that was taking him from the Gemeli clinic. But instead of going straight home, his motorcade sped past the Vatican, according to an Associated Press photographer outside the walled city-state.
The Pope was apparently on his way to a Roman basilica, which is his favorite. After being discharged from the same hospital in July 2021 following intestinal surgery, Francis stopped to offer prayers of thanks at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, which houses an icon of the Virgin Mary.
Vatican officials said Friday that Francis will be in St. Peter’s Square for Mass on Palm Sunday to mark the start of Holy Week, which culminates with Easter on April 9.
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