Pope Francis returns to the Vatican 10 days after the operation

Pope Francis is back at the Vatican after being discharged from a Roman hospital 10 days after bowel surgery to remove half of his colon

July 14, 2021, 2:46 p.m.

Read for 4 minutes

ROME – Pope Francis was released from a hospital in Rome and returned home to the Vatican on Wednesday, 10 days after undergoing half-colon removal surgery.

Francis, 84, stopped at St. Mary Major’s Basilica to thank the operation for the success of the operation and to pray for others before returning home, the Vatican said. The Pope always visits the basilica after a trip abroad to pray to a beloved icon of the Virgin Mary.

Francis drove in the passenger seat of the Ford sedan that left the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome at around 10:45 a.m. (0845 GMT; 4:45 a.m. EDT).

After making the detour to the basilica, his little motorcade approached a side entrance of the Vatican and stopped in front of the gate, where Francis got out with the help of a bodyguard. He greeted some Italian security guards – two army soldiers and a handful of Italian police motorcycle escorts – and got back into the car, which then drove through the Perugino Gate.

The Vatican Hotel where Francis lives is just beyond the gate.

Francis had half of his colon removed on July 4th for severe constriction of his colon, his first major surgery since taking office in 2013. It was a scheduled procedure that was scheduled for early July when his audiences are suspended anyway and Francis normally would take some time off.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni confirmed the return of Francis from the hospital and the visit to the basilica. Francis prayed in front of the icon, saying “his gratitude for the success of his operation and offering a prayer for all the sick, especially those he met during his hospital stay,” Bruni said in the statement.

Francis will have a few more weeks to recover before traveling again in September. He is scheduled to visit Hungary and Slovakia from September 12-15, and make a brief stopover in Glasgow, Scotland, in November to attend the COP26 climate change conference. Other possible trips are also being examined.

The Vatican had originally said Francis could be released last weekend, but later said he would stay a few more days to further recover and undergo rehabilitation therapy.

His unannounced release was greeted with joy and prayers by visitors to St. Peter’s Square, who wished for further recovery and Italy’s recovery from the pandemic.

“I am glad that the Pope left the Gemelli Hospital and returned to his ‘world’ among us believers, hopefully bringing us a lot of serenity,” said Andrea Castellani, who lives in Rome.

The operation had taken many Vatican observers by surprise: Francis had shown no signs of the pain often associated with his bowel problem, and even had a busy week before the operation.

The Argentine Pope had part of a lung removed as a young man, but otherwise enjoyed relatively robust health, with the exception of sciatic nerve pain, which has recently flared up.

The Vatican gave reassuring updates on his recovery daily, saying it was going as planned. Francis had an episode of fever three days after surgery, but the Vatican said diagnostic tests and scans showed no problems.

The Pope had appeared in public for the first time since the operation on Sunday and looked handsome as he delivered his weekly prayer from the hospital balcony on the 10th floor, surrounded by young cancer patients. He took the opportunity to call for free health care for everyone.

On Tuesday afternoon he visited the children’s cancer ward, which is on the 10th floor of the papal hospital.

On arrival at home, Francis’ official Twitter account @Pontifex posted an update: “I thank all those who have been close to me with prayer and affection during my hospital stay. Let us not forget to pray for the sick and for their helpers, ”it said there.

———

The AP video journalist Luigi Navarro contributed to this.