Following a hernia procedure, Pope Francis left the hospital on Friday and made his way to the Vatican, where his health will come under increased scrutiny before a busy summer.
At 8:45 a.m. (06:45 GMT), a beaming Francis exited the Gemelli hospital in Rome in a wheelchair and thanked the onlookers.
Since his election in 2013, the 86-year-old has experienced a number of health concerns, including hip and knee discomfort, weight gain, an inflamed colon, and respiratory infections.
On June 7, the Argentine underwent a three-hour procedure under general anaesthesia to have a severe hernia that had developed at the location of a prior surgery scar removed.
Since 2021, he has been hospitalised three times.
He was joke-telling with the medical staff when he awoke after surgery last week, according to the doctors, and the hospital has since released frequent updates outlining his progressive recuperation.
Papal audiences were postponed until June 18 at the Vatican’s request so that the pope could rest.
John Paul II referred to Francis as “Vatican III” because he was so quick to get back to work from his room in the Gemelli hospital in Rome, which is the preferred location for popes.
He had said that “Vatican number one” was St. Peter’s Square, “Vatican number two” was the papal vacation palace of Castel Gandolfo, and “Vatican number three” was the Gemelli.
Francis could leave on Friday morning, according to the doctors’ Thursday statements. The pontiff spent his final day making visits in a wheelchair and giving thanks to the medical staff who took care of him.
The Vatican reported that he also paid visits to the paediatric oncology and child neurosurgery departments, where several of the patients had given him messages and drawings wishing him a swift recovery.
Trips: Francis will be watched closely to see how he handles returning to a regular routine after returning home.
His travel plans to Portugal and Mongolia in August will keep him very busy in the upcoming months.
Around 20 meetings and numerous events are scheduled during his visit to Portugal from August 2 to August 6, in conjunction with World Youth Day in Lisbon.
The leader of the 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, who had a portion of one lung removed when he was a young man, frequently has to cut back on his schedule due to health issues.
He had surgery at the Gemelli in July 2021 for a particular type of diverticulitis, an inflammation of tiny bulges or pockets that may form in the lining of the gut.
Francis spent three nights in the hospital in March with a respiratory infection.
There have been more persistent reports regarding his potential departure in recent months.
He has frequently stated that, like his predecessor, Benedict XVI, he would think about resigning if his health declined.
Francis admitted he needed to ease down in July 2022.
“At my age and with this limitation, I have to save myself a little bit to be able to serve the church,” he declared. “Or, alternatively, to consider the potential for resigning.”
But he claimed that he had no current plans to leave in March.