ROME – Pope Francis left the hospital in Rome where he had planned bowel surgery 10 days ago on Wednesday, the Vatican said in a statement.
The 84-year-old pontiff was released at 10:30 a.m. local time (4:30 a.m. ET) from Gemelli Polytechnic Hospital. On his way back to Casa Santa Maria in the Vatican, he stopped to pray at the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Holy See spokesman Matteo Bruni said in the statement.
“He expressed his gratitude for the success of his operation and offered a prayer for all the sick, especially those he encountered while in hospital,” Bruni said in the statement.
Francis underwent surgery for a severe narrowing of his large intestine on July 4, his first major surgery since becoming pope in 2013. The Vatican said it was a planned procedure although ‘he did not disclose any details until he was admitted to the hospital. . The operation was scheduled for early July, when his hearings are usually suspended and he would normally take leave.
While in hospital, he delivered his traditional Sunday Angelus speech from the 10th floor balcony and spoke of the need for “free health care, which provides good service, accessible to all”.
He also visited a pediatric cancer ward on the same floor as the Papal Hospital Suite, where he welcomed the children and their parents on Sunday and Tuesday.
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Francis will still have several weeks to recover before he starts traveling again in September. He plans to visit Hungary and Slovakia on a trip scheduled for September 12-15. He will then travel to Glasgow, Scotland in November to participate in the COP26 climate conference.
On Monday, the Vatican said the Pope would spend a few more days in the hospital to help him recover.
Born and raised in Argentina, the Pope had part of a lung removed when he was young, but otherwise enjoyed relatively robust health.
Deborah Loubov contributed.