| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

Pope recovering well from surgery but to skip Sunday blessing

In order to save stress on his abdomen after his successful recuperation from surgery, doctors urged Pope Francis not to give his Sunday blessing from a hospital balcony.

Sergio Alfieri, chief surgeon at the Gemelli hospital, told reporters on Saturday that the 86-year-old has consented to remain there for at least the entirety of the following week.

Francis underwent a three-hour operation to repair an abdominal hernia on Wednesday.

“Only three days have passed. We asked the Holy Father to be prudent and avoid the strain (of standing at the balcony),” Alfieri said. “Each time he gets out of bed and sits in an armchair puts stress on the abdominal walls.”

A mesh prosthetic was inserted into the abdominal wall to help it heal and doctors want it to settle and attach properly to avoid another operation if it breaks, he added.

“You can understand how that would not be pleasing for him, and for me,” Alfieri joked.


Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said the pope would say Sunday’s traditional noon Angelus prayer in his hospital suite and the faithful could say it at the same time.

Alfieri said the pope was taken off intravenous tubes on Friday and had started a semi-liquid diet. All medical parameters were within the norm, there were no cardiac problems and complete healing of the abdominal scars would take about three months, he added.

The Vatican said blood test results were good and chest X-rays showed no problems.

Francis had part of one lung removed because of an illness when he was 21-year-old in his native Argentina.

Doctors had said after the operation that the pope should have no limitations on travels and other activities after recovery. He has trips to Portugal on Aug. 2-6 for World Youth Day and to visit the Shrine of Fatima, and to Mongolia Aug. 31-Sept. 4, one of the remotest places he will have visited.

Bruni reiterated that all audiences had been cancelled until June 18 but after that the pope’s schedule would remain for now.

The pope traditionally takes all of July off, with the Sunday blessings being his only public appearance, so he will have the entire month to rest before the Portugal trip.

  • Reuters