(ITALY) — Pope Francis left hospital on Saturday morning after spending three days recovering from bronchitis, according to the Vatican press office.
The pope, standing on his feet, answered reporters’ questions outside Rome’ Gemelli hospital. He then embraced a crying woman and proceeded to bless her. Pope Francis also spoke to a couple, then got in the front passenger seat of a white Fiat 500.
Pope Francis said he will deliver the Angelus Prayer tomorrow on Palm Sunday from St Peter’s Square.
The Director of the Vatican press office, Matteo Bruni, released two press releases early Saturday.
“This morning, Saturday 1 April, Pope Francis was discharged from the A. Gemelli University Hospital. Before leaving the facility, the Holy Father greeted the Rector of the Catholic University, Franco Anelli, with his closest collaborators , the General Director of the Polyclinic [hospital], Marco Elefanti, the general ecclesiastical assistant of the Catholic University, Monsignor Claudio Giuliodori, and the team of doctors and health workers who assisted him during these days,” the statement read. “As he left the Polyclinic, Pope Francis got out of the car and greeted the people present. He embraced a couple of parents who lost their daughter last night, stopping to pray with them.”
The pontiff’s hospital stay had gone well “with normal medical progress,” officials said.
Francis, according to a statement, ate pizza for dinner on Thursday night, had breakfast yesterday morning, read his newspapers and then went back to work.
“I can confirm that, since he is scheduled to leave the hospital [on Saturday], Pope Francis is expected to be present in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday for the Eucharistic celebration of Palm Sunday, the Passion of the Lord,” Bruni said in a statement.
Francis, 86, was taken Wednesday to the Gemelli University Hospital after complaining of some respiratory difficulties and had tests performed.
“The outcome of these showed a respiratory infection (excluding Covid 19 infection) that will require several days of appropriate hospital medical treatment,” the press office said at the time.
Bronchitis occurs when the airways in the lungs, which are known as the bronchial tubes, become inflamed.
It often develops as a result of viral infections including the common cold, influenza and RSV, according to the National Institutes of Health.
It’s unknown what treatment the Pope is receiving aside from an “infusion-based antibiotic therapy,” according to the Vatican. The NIH says most cases of bronchitis clear up on their own with a mix of over-the-counter medications to relieve coughing and loosen mucus, drinking hot tea or water, and inhaler medications if needed.
The overnight stay marked the first time the Vatican has publicly announced that Francis has gone to the hospital since he underwent surgery to have part of his colon removed in July 2021 due to intestinal inflammation.
It’s previously been reported that the Pope had part of one lung removed as a young man because of a respiratory infection.
President Joe Biden sent well wishes to Francis during remarks at an event Wednesday celebrating Greek Independence Day.
“The pope is ill now, so say an extra prayer for him,” said Biden, who — in 2021 — became the first Roman Catholic U.S. leader in more than half a century to meet at the Vatican with the head of the Catholic Church.
On Thursday, Francis sent a message of thanks to those who’d wished him well.
“I am touched by the many messages received in these hours and I express my gratitude for the closeness and prayer,” he said on Twitter.
ABC News’ Joseph Simonetti contributed to this report.
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