Pope Francis was released from a hospital in Rome and returned home to the Vatican on Wednesday, 10 days after undergoing surgery scheduled to remove half of his colon.
Francis was seated in the passenger seat of the Ford car, which left the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome at around 10:45 a.m. (8:45 a.m. GMT; 4:45 a.m. EDT).
As his small procession approached a side entrance to the Vatican, the Ford stopped and Francis exited with the help of a bodyguard. He greeted Italian security guards – two army soldiers standing guard and a handful of Italian police motorcycle escorts – and climbed back into the car, which then entered the Vatican through the Perugino Gate. .
Francis had half of his colon removed for a severe narrowing of his large intestine on July 4, his first major surgery since becoming pope in 2013. It was a scheduled procedure, scheduled for early July when the hearings of the Pope are suspended anyway and Francis normally take time off.
Francis will still have several weeks to recover before he starts traveling again in September. He is scheduled to visit Hungary and Slovakia on a trip from September 12-15, then make a quick stop in Glasgow, Scotland in November to attend the COP26 climate conference. Other possible trips are also under study.
The Vatican initially said Francis could be released last weekend, but later said there would be a few more days left for recovery and rehabilitation therapy.
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The Pope has appeared in public for the first time since Sunday’s operation, looking in good shape as he delivers his weekly prayer from the balcony of the 10th-floor hospital, surrounded by young cancer patients. He took the opportunity to call for free health care for all.
Tuesday afternoon, the day before his release, he visited the pediatric cancer ward, located on the same floor as the papal hospital suite.
The Argentine pope had part of a lung removed when he was young, but otherwise enjoyed relatively robust health.
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