Pope Francis made his first public appearance since undergoing surgery for intestinal diverticulitis seven days ago, addressing through a hospital window during his weekly Angelus prayer.
The 84-year-old pontiff spoke from a balcony at Rome’s Gemelli University Hospital, where he is recuperating.
“I am happy to be able to keep the Sunday appointment of the Angelus, even here from the Gemelli Polyclinic,” he said. “I have deeply felt your closeness and the support of your prayers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Francis expressed “my appreciation and my encouragement to the doctors and all healthcare workers and hospital staff.” And he asked people to “pray for all the sick, especially for those in the most difficult conditions: may no one be left alone, may everyone receive the anointing of listening, closeness and care.”
He noted the importance of healthcare for everyone.
“In these days of being hospitalized I’ve experienced once again how important a good health care is, accessible to all, as it is in Italy and in other countries. A health care system that is free, that assures good service accessible to everyone,” he said.
The pope arrived to Rome’s Gemelli hospital last Sunday, only hours after praying the annual Angelus in St. Peter’s Square. The operation was described as “a scheduled surgical intervention for a symptomatic stenotic diverticulitis.”
The disease, which is more frequent as individuals age, is an inflammation caused by tiny sacs called diverticuli that form in the walls of the colon. It can cause pain and, in some cases, bleeding.
The Vatican said he is expected to be released from hospital in the next few days.
On Saturday, a spokesperson for the Holy See said the pontiff is gradually resuming work. He is walking, his blood tests are “satisfactory” and “he is continuing the prescribed treatment. He is expected to be released from hospital in the next few days.