Vatican: Pope to deliver Sunday blessing from Rome hospital

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Pope Francis will follow in Saint John Paul II’s footsteps and deliver his weekly Sunday blessings and greetings from the hospital in Rome where he is recovering from bowel surgery, the Vatican announced on Friday.

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The Vatican Daily Medical Update said Francis’s temperature was back to normal after the slight fever he had on Wednesday night. He said his treatment and recovery at Gemelli Polyclinic was going smoothly, with the pontiff walking, eating, working and celebrating mass with the hospital staff.

Francis, 84, had half of his colon removed on July 4 for what the Vatican called a “severe” narrowing of his large intestine. He is expected to stay at Gemelli, who has a special Popes-only suite, all week, assuming there are no complications.

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The press release indicates that Francis will deliver his blessing Sunday at noon from the 10th floor of the hospital, an appointment that will recall the practice of John Paul, who also delivered the Angelus prayer and the 10th floor greetings of hospital during occasional stays.

During a stay in 1996, John Paul joked that after so many visits, Gemelli had become “Vatican No. 3,” after St. Peter and the papal summer estate at Castel Gandolfo.

Francis, for his part, continued to eat regularly and walk down the hall after the three-hour operation on Sunday, the Vatican said. He said he had resumed work, “alternating it with moments of reading texts.”

He celebrated mass in the Pope’s private apartment Thursday afternoon, “in the presence of all who assisted him during his hospitalization,” the Vatican said.

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The Argentine Pope enjoyed relatively robust health, although he lost the upper part of a lung in his youth due to infection. He also suffers from sciatica, or nerve pain, which causes him to walk with a severe limp.

Jean-Paul’s first stay in Gemelli took place after being shot during an assassination attempt on May 13, 1981 in St. Peter’s Square. Four days later, he said his Sunday prayer from the hospital and said, “Pray for the brother who shot me, whom I sincerely forgave.

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John Paul was released in June of the same year but returned a few weeks later after developing a serious infection that kept him in hospital for almost two months.

He returned in the following years with fractures from falls, an appendectomy, respiratory and throat problems, and removal of a benign bowel tumor. The Polish pope, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, died in the Vatican on April 2, 2005.

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