Pope Francis (L) waves to supporters as he leaves the Gemelli Polyclinic Hospital in Rome, Italy, 16 June 2023. EFE/EPA/ANGELO CARCONI

Pope leaves Rome’s Gemelli hospital after surgery

Rome, June 16 (EFE).- Pope Francis was discharged from Rome’s Gemelli hospital Friday after undergoing abdominal surgery, the Vatican reported.

Pope Francis arrives at Santa Marta Gate after being discharged today from the Gemelli hospital in the Vatican City, 16 June 2023. EFE/EPA/CLAUDIO PERI

The pontiff was operated on for an abdominal hernia on June 7 and left the Gemelli Hospital on Friday at 8:00 am in a wheelchair as dozens of faithful and members of the media crowded the main entrance.

“I’m still alive,” he smiled when asked how he was feeling.

He went on to express his sorrow over the deaths of at least 79 migrants and hundreds who remain missing after a fishing boat capsized in the Ionian Sea off the Greek coast on Wednesday.

“So much pain, so much,” the pope told reporters.

Surgeon Sergio Alfieri, who also conducted the operation on the pontiff’s colon in July 2021, accompanied Francis to his car.

Alfieri told reporters that the pontiff was in better shape and “better than before” given he would no longer have the discomfort the hernia was causing and added that Francis would continue his recovery in the Vatican.

“He will be a stronger pope,” the doctor added.

Before returning to the Vatican, the pontiff stopped at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to pray, as he does before and after his trips.

This is the third time that the pope has been admitted to the Gemelli hospital, after he spent three nights in the hospital in late March with acute pneumonia and underwent colon surgery on July 4 last year.

On Thursday the Pope thanked the staff and team at the hospital and paid a visit to the Paediatric Oncology and Children’s Neurosurgery ward where some young patients gave the pontiff drawings they had been working on while he was in recovery.

During his tour of the hospital, the Pope thanked medical professionals for their efforts “to alleviate the suffering of others, not only with medication, but also with tenderness and humanity.”

The Vatican has provisionally canceled all events in the Pope’s diary until June 18.

Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel are traveling to Italy to meet the pontiff next week. EFE