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Pope Francis to be discharged from the hospital in time for Easter mass

DW - South Africa logo DW - South Africa 2023/03/31
The last time Pope Francis was in the hospital was in 2021 © Provided by DW - South Africa The last time Pope Francis was in the hospital was in 2021

Pope Francis is expected to leave the hospital on Saturday after being treated for a respiratory infection and will later attend the Palm Sunday mass, the Vatican confirmed on Friday.

The 86-year-old pontiff will return home after a successful antibiotic treatment at Rome's Gemelli University Hospital.

According to local media, he shared pizza with the hospital staff that looked after him on Thursday evening.

After breakfast, he reportedly read newspapers and worked from his hospital room on Friday.

What happens now?

Francis is expected to officially preside over the Palm Sunday mass in Saint Peter's Square, which marks the beginning of the most important Christian holiday — the Holy Week and Easter.

Arrangements for other clergy members to perform the ceremony at the altar have already been made, whilst the pope will be seated nearby.

Pope's Sunday Angelus prayer will follow the ceremony.

Why was the pope in the hospital?

Francis was hospitalized just weeks after his tenth anniversary as the head of the global Catholic Church, which led to widespread concern, initially for what seemed to be scheduled check-ups, according to the Vatican.

However, the Vatican later revealed that he was having breathing issues due to "infectious bronchitis" which required antibiotic treatment.

After three nights of successful treatment at the hospital, the pontiff, who had a part of his lung removed in youth due to an infection, will return to Santa Marta, his Vatican home.

This was his second stay at the hospital since July 2021, where he had to undergo colon surgery due to diverticulitis.

'Touched by the many messages'

President of the United States Joe Biden tweeted on Thursday, "The world needs Pope Francis."

Biden, the only second Catholic president in US history, sent his wishes to the pope along with many of the pontiff's followers.

The pope tweeted that he was "touched by the many messages" from his well-wishers and was thankful to them on Thursday.

Francis has said in the past that he would step down from his position if his health worsens.

But in February, he said that he had no plans to quit for now.

He also visited the African continent in early February, including South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

aa/jcg (dpa,afp,Reuters)

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