Pope Leaves Hospital, Gets Cheeky With Reporters

'I'm still alive,' Francis quipped before heading to Vatican after his bout with bronchitis
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2023 9:33 AM CDT
Updated Apr 1, 2023 5:29 AM CDT
Vatican: Pope Feeling Well Enough to Have a Slice
Pope Francis meets children at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
UPDATE Apr 1, 2023 5:29 AM CDT

Pope Francis was discharged on Saturday from the Rome hospital where he was treated for bronchitis, quipping to journalists before being driven away in a white Fiat 500: "I'm still alive." Francis, 86, was hospitalized on Wednesday at Gemelli Polyclinic after reportedly having breathing difficulties following his weekly public audience. The pontiff was treated with antibiotics administered intravenously, the Vatican said, per the AP. Before departing, Francis had an emotional moment with a Rome couple whose 5-year-old daughter died Friday night at the hospital. Serena Subania, mother of Angelica, sobbed as she pressed her head into the chest of the pope, who put a hand on the woman's head. On Friday, Vatican officials said Francis would be at St. Peter's Square for Palm Sunday Mass to mark the start of Holy Week, which culminates on Easter, April 9.

Mar 31, 2023 9:33 AM CDT

Pope Francis is expected to be discharged on Saturday from the Rome hospital where he's being treated for bronchitis as his recovery proceeds in a "normal" way, the Vatican said, adding that the pontiff even had pizza for dinner on Thursday and will be in St. Peter's Square for Palm Sunday Mass. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni gave the update in a set of statements on Friday. Bruni said that Francis was due to be in the square for the Mass, which marks the start of Holy Week and ushers in a series of solemn public ceremonies that culminate on Easter on April 9, per the AP. Francis, 86, was hospitalized on Wednesday at Gemelli Polyclinic, where doctors said the pontiff was receiving antibiotics intravenously to treat his bronchitis.

"Yesterday went well, with a normal clinical recovery,'' Bruni said. "[On Thursday] evening, Pope Francis had dinner, eating a pizza, together with all those who are assisting him in these days of the hospital stay," including doctors, nurses, assistants, and Vatican security personnel. On Friday morning, the pope read newspapers and resumed his work after breakfast. The pontiff's return to the Vatican hotel where he lives "is expected for tomorrow, as a result of the last tests of this morning,'' Bruni said. The spokesman didn't indicate whether Francis would deliver a homily during the Palm Sunday ceremony, a particularly long service, or if someone else might read it for him.

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Medical staff decided to hospitalize him on Wednesday after he returned to his Vatican residence following his customary weekly public audience in St. Peter's Square. The Vatican reported he had experienced difficulty in breathing in the previous days. During Wednesday's hourlong public audience, Francis at times appeared visibly in pain when he moved about and was helped by aides. Bruni on Thursday evening said that antibiotic treatment for bronchitis had resulted in a "marked" improvement in his health. The Vatican seemed keen to quickly dispel any worries about the pope's physical fitness to carry on fully with his duties. Nearly immediately after the announcement of a discharge date for Francis, the Vatican announced that the pope would meet the prime minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina on Monday in a private audience at the Apostolic Palace.

(More Pope Francis stories.)

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