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Pope Francis leaves hospital; ‘Still alive,’ he shouts

Pope Francis is showing improvement, Vatican says

Pope Francis is improving after being hospitalized, the Vatican said


Pope Francis was released from a Rome hospital on Saturday where he was being treated for bronchitis, joking to reporters before being driven away: “I’m still alive.”

Francis, 86, was hospitalized at Gemeli Polyclinic on Wednesday due to breathing problems after attending his weekly public audience. The Pope was treated with intravenous antibiotics, the Vatican said.

Before departing, Francis had an emotional moment with a Rome couple whose 5-year-old daughter died in hospital on Friday night. Serena Subania, Angelica’s mother, wept with her head on the Pope’s chest, who placed his hand on the woman’s head.

Francis seemed eager to be with well-wishers. When a boy showed him a cast of his hand, the 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.

Pope of Italy

Pope Francis autographs a plaster cast of a child as he leaves the Agostino Gemelli University Hospital in Rome, Saturday, April 1, 2023.

Gregorio Borgia/AP

The pontiff answered in a voice that was close to a whisper when reporters asked him questions, indicating that he felt chest pains, a symptom that convinced his medical staff to take him to hospital on Wednesday.

Francis sat in the front seat of the white Fiat 500 car that took him away from Gemeli Polyclinic. But instead of going straight home, his motorcade drove past Vatican City, according to an Associated Press photographer stationed outside the walled city-state.

The Pope was apparently heading to a Rome basilica that he loves. After he was released from the same hospital in July 2021 following bowel surgery, Francis stopped to pray thanksgiving at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, home to an icon depicting the Virgin Mary.

On Friday, Vatican officials said Francis will be in St. Peter’s Square for Palm Sunday Mass to mark the start of Holy Week, which ends on Easter, April 9.

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