1st April 2023 – (Hong Kong) Pope Francis has left Rome’s Gemelli hospital after receiving treatment for bronchitis. The 86-year-old pontiff appeared in good spirits and used a walking stick to support himself as he greeted well-wishers and spoke to reporters before departing. This marks a departure from his last hospital visit in 2021, during which the media was kept far from him following surgery on his colon. Despite recent health issues, Francis remains committed to his duties as the head of the Catholic Church and is set to take part in Palm Sunday services this weekend.
Over the past few years, Pope Francis has faced several health concerns. He has suffered from persistent knee pain and underwent surgery on his colon last year. This year, he was hospitalized after experiencing breathing difficulties. However, the pontiff has remained active in his role as the leader of the Catholic Church, and his recent hospitalisation did not dampen his spirits.
Before departing from the hospital, Pope Francis took the time to embrace a couple whose daughter had died overnight in the hospital. He also signed the plaster cast of a young boy with a broken arm, showing that he was fully recovered and ready to return to his duties. He waved to onlookers as he was driven back to the Vatican, eager to participate in the Palm Sunday services.
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, a time of intense religious activity for the Catholic Church. The week includes many ceremonies and rituals that can be physically exhausting for the pontiff, including a nighttime procession by the Colosseum. Despite his recent hospitalisation, Pope Francis is committed to fulfilling his duties during this important week.
To ensure that he is able to participate in all of the Holy Week activities, Pope Francis will receive assistance from a cardinal. The dean of the college of cardinals, Giovanni Battista Re, has said that a cardinal will take care of altar duties and help the pope during the week’s celebrations. This arrangement was also put in place last year, when the pope experienced knee pain.