Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Pope Francis Recovering from Surgery in Same Hospital Room Where St. John Paul II was Treated

Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, pictured on July 5, 2021, as Pope Francis convalesces after a surgery. (Courtney Mares/CNA)
Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, pictured on July 5, 2021, as Pope Francis convalesces after a surgery. (Courtney Mares/CNA)

Pope Francis is recovering from his colon surgery this week in the same hospital room where St. John Paul II was treated throughout his pontificate.

The Vatican said on July 6, two days after the operation, that the pope had “rested well overnight” and his routine follow-up examinations were good.

“This morning he had breakfast, read some newspapers, and got up to walk,” Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See press office, said.

For the rest of this week, Pope Francis is scheduled to stay in Gemelli University Hospital, located atop Monte Mario, the highest hill in Rome.

The pope’s hospital room is situated on the 10th floor of the sprawling polyclinic in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies. The pope’s medical suite can be identified from the street by its five large windows covered by white blinds.

It is the same room where John Paul II stayed during many of his hospital treatments, including for a colon surgery in 1992 and his hospitalization after being shot in an assassination attempt in 1981.

St. John Paul II was admitted to the hospital so many times during his more than 25-year pontificate that he once referred to Gemelli as the “third Vatican” after Vatican City and Castel Gandolfo, the popes’ summer residence.

The comparison has prompted speculation as to whether Pope Francis will deliver his Sunday Angelus address from the hospital window, as John Paul II famously did.

As of July 6, the Angelus address remains the only event on Pope Francis’ public calendar for the upcoming weeks. The pope traditionally suspends his Wednesday general audiences during July.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said July 5 that the pope was expected to spend seven days recovering in the hospital, “barring complications.”

Pope Francis underwent a three-hour operation on the evening of July 4 to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis. Part of his colon was removed.

A 10-person medical team was involved in the procedure, during which some Italian media outlets, including the Rome newspaper Il Messaggero, reported that “complications” arose, causing the operation to be more invasive than the originally planned laparoscopy. The Vatican has not confirmed these details.

Earlier this year, the pope was forced to miss several public events due to a recurrence of the sciatic pain that struck him at the end of 2020. Pope Francis has suffered from the painful condition for several years.

Religious and political leaders around the world have expressed their well-wishes and prayers for Pope Francis as he recovers in hospital.

Archbishop José Gomez, the president of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, offered prayers for Pope Francis’ recovery on U.S. Independence Day.

“As we paused to celebrate the 4th of July, Catholics across the United States took time to pray for the Holy Father. We join our brothers and sisters around the world in praying for the continued recovery of Pope Francis,” he said.

“Lord, may our shepherd and all those in the hospital for healing in these days find strength and comfort in your love.”

Pope Benedict XVI Praying ‘Fervently’ for Pope Francis
Pope Francis greets Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery on Nov. 28, 2020. (Vatican Media)
Pope Francis greets Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery on Nov. 28, 2020. (Vatican Media)

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI is also praying for Pope Francis.

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Pope Benedict’s personal secretary, told Italian media that the retired pope “lovingly directs his thoughts to Pope Francis and fervently prays for him,” the German section of Vatican News reported.

The hospital treating Pope Francis has also had other Catholic figures as patients. The Catholic hospital and medical school treated Pope John Paul II after he was shot in an assassination attempt in 1981. Mother Teresa received care from the hospital’s cardiology department in 1992.

Last week, Pope Francis thanked the 94-year-old Pope Benedict XVI for his continual prayer for the Church in his retirement, calling the pope emeritus “the contemplative of the Vatican.”

The pope spoke on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the 70th anniversary of Benedict XVI’s ordination to the priesthood.

“To you, Benedict, dear father and brother, goes our affection, our gratitude, and our closeness,” he said.

Noting that Pope Benedict XVI lives in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in Vatican City, Pope Francis said that “he is now the contemplative of the Vatican, who spends his life praying for the Church and for the diocese of Rome, of which he is bishop emeritus.”

“Thank you for your credible witness. Thank you for your gaze, constantly directed toward the horizon of God. Thank you,” he added.

Catholic News Agency

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