| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

Vatican releases first pictures of pope since surgery

 The Vatican on Thursday released the first pictures of Pope Francis after his abdominal surgery, indicating that the pontiff was continuing his recovery ahead of an expected discharge in the coming days.

The pictures showed Francis in a wheelchair, visiting the cancer ward for children at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, which is next to the room where he has been convalescing for more than a week.

The pope, who at the age of 86 underwent a three-hour operation to repair an abdominal hernia on June 7 at the Gemelli, is expected to be discharged in the next few days, the Vatican had said on Wednesday.

His engagements have been cancelled until June 18.

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 he is due to make a trip to Portugal from Aug. 2 to Aug. 6 for World Youth Day and to visit the Shrine of Fatima.

He also is still scheduled to visit Mongolia from Aug. 31 to Sept. 4.