ROME – Pope Francis will follow in the footsteps of St. John Paul II and deliver his weekly Sunday blessing and greeting from the Rome hospital where he is recovering from intestinal surgery, the Vatican said Friday.
The Vatican’s daily medical update said that Francis’ temperature was normal again following the slight fever he ran Wednesday evening. It said his treatment and recovery at Gemelli Polyclinic were proceeding normally, with the pontiff walking, eating, working and celebrating Mass with hospital staff.
Francis, 84, had half of his colon removed July 4 for what the Vatican said was a “severe” narrowing of his large intestine. He is expected to stay at Gemelli, which has a special suite reserved for popes, through the week, assuming there are no complications.
The statement said Francis would deliver his noontime Sunday blessing from the 10th floor of the hospital, an appointment that will recall the practice of John Paul, who also delivered the Angelus prayer and greetings from the hospital's 10th floor during his occasional stays.
During one stay in 1996, John Paul quipped that after so many visits, Gemelli had become the “Vatican No. 3," after St. Peter's and the papal summer estate in Castel Gandolfo.
Francis, for his part, was continuing to eat regularly and walk in the corridor after the three-hour surgery Sunday, the Vatican said. It said he had resumed working, “alternating it with moments of reading texts."
He celebrated Mass in the papal private apartment on Thursday afternoon, “attended by all those assisting him during his hospitalization,” the Vatican said.
The Argentine pope has enjoyed relatively robust health, though he lost the upper part of one lung in his youth because of an infection. He also suffers from sciatica, or nerve pain, that makes him walk with a pronounced limp.
John Paul’s first stay at Gemelli was after he was shot during a May 13, 1981 assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square. Four days later, he delivered his Sunday prayer from the hospital and said: “Pray for the brother who shot me, whom I have sincerely forgiven.”
John Paul was released in June of that year but returned a few weeks later after developing a serious infection that kept him hospitalized for nearly two months.
He returned in subsequent years for broken bones suffered in falls, an appendectomy, respiratory and throat problems as well as to have a benign intestinal tumor removed. The Polish pope, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, died at the Vatican on April 2, 2005.