ROME – Pope Francis will follow in the footsteps of St. John Paul II and deliver his weekly Sunday blessings and greetings from the hospital in Rome, where he is recovering from an intestinal surgery, the Vatican said on Friday.
The Vatican’s daily medical update said Francis’ temperature was back to normal after the mild fever he had on Wednesday night. His treatment and recovery at Gemelli Polyclinic was said to be normal, with the Pope walking, eating, working and celebrating Mass with the hospital staff.
Francis, 84, had half of his colon removed on July 4th because the Vatican said a “severe” narrowing of his colon was. He is expected to stay at the Gemelli, which has a special suite for Popes, all week provided there are no complications.
The statement said that Francis would deliver his Sunday blessing at lunchtime from the 10th floor of the hospital, an appointment that will commemorate the practice of John Paul, who during his occasional visits also received the Angelus prayer and greetings from 10.
During a stay in 1996, John Paul quipped that Gemelli had become “Vatican No. 3” after so many visits to St. Peter and the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.
For his part, after the three-hour operation on Sunday, Francis continues to eat regularly and walk in the hallway, the Vatican said. It said that he had resumed his work and “alternated with moments of reading texts”.
He celebrated mass on Thursday afternoon in the papal private apartment, “in which everyone who helped him during his hospital stay,” announced the Vatican.
The Argentine Pope enjoys relatively robust health, despite losing the upper part of a lung to an infection in his youth. He also suffers from sciatica, or nerve pain, which makes him walk with a pronounced limp.
John Paul’s first visit to Gemelli was after he was shot and killed in an assassination attempt on May 13, 1981 in St. Peter’s Square. Four days later he delivered his Sunday prayer from the hospital and said, “Pray for the brother who shot me, whom I sincerely forgave.”
John Paul was released in June of that year but returned a few weeks later after developing a serious infection that had him hospitalized for almost two months.
In the following years he returned because of broken bones in falls, an appendectomy, respiratory and throat problems and a benign intestinal tumor. The Polish Pope, who had Parkinson’s disease, died in the Vatican on April 2, 2005.