Pope Francis will lead a Mass Gathering in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday to begin this year’s Easter service, the day after he was released from the hospital.
He was admitted to Gemelli Hospital in Rome on Wednesday with difficulty breathing and was later diagnosed with bronchitis. When the 86-year-old was discharged from hospital on Saturday, he confirmed that he would oversee the Palm Sunday ceremony followed by the Angelus prayers. “I’m still alive,” he joked.
According to the Italian news agency Ansa, he was “just sick, but not scared. After his release, the Pope smiled and waved from the car before stepping out to address the crowd. Instead of driving home, his car drove past the Vatican and stopped at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. When he came out after praying, people in the street applauded and shouted, “Long live the Pope!”
At another stop, he put a chocolate egg in his motorcade and got out to give it to police officers, the Associated Press reported.
The pope’s hospitalization comes ahead of the busiest week on the Christian calendar. Holy Week includes a busy schedule of physically demanding events and services. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said on Friday that the pope will attend Palm Sunday services this weekend.
“I can confirm that Pope Francis is due to leave the hospital tomorrow [Saturday],” Bruni said in a statement. He will also officiate the very popular Easter Mass next Sunday, according to the Vatican.
The Argentine pope, who served 10 years as head of the Catholic Church earlier this month, has had a number of health problems throughout his life, including having part of his lung removed at the age of 21.
He had also used a wheelchair for the past few months due to his knee-related issues. Wednesday’s admission was his second since 2021, when he underwent intestinal surgery, also at Gemelli Hospital.
But the Pope continued his work, visiting the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan in February.Last month, he presided over the funeral of his predecessor,Pope Benedict, XVI.
The pope, who has pushed for reforms in the Catholic Church, has previously said he would consider resigning if his health deteriorated, but recently admitted he has no plans to resign.
Pope’s Schedule over Easter
2 April, Palm Sunday: 09:30 (07:30 GMT) Papal Mass, 12:00 Sunday Blessing
5 April: 09:00 Papal General Audience
6 April, Holy Thursday: 09:30 Chrism Mass in St Peter’s Basilica
7 April, Good Friday: 17:00 Passion of the Lord, 21:15 Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum
8 April, Holy Saturday: 20:30 Easter Vigil in St Peter’s Basilica
9 April, Easter Sunday: 10:00 Easter Sunday Mass, 12:00 Urbi et Orbi in St Peter’s Square
10 April, Easter Monday: 12:00, Pasquetta in St Peter’s Square