The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, is recovering from hernia surgery, Holy See spokesman Matteo Bruni said Thursday.
The pope underwent a three-hour laparotomy under general anesthesia at Rome’s Gemelli hospital on Wednesday. He is currently on a liquid diet and is expected to stay in hospital for at least five days. However, his age and recent illnesses may prolong his recovery, the Vatican said.
The Vatican has canceled all meetings scheduled until June 18 as a precaution.
“Pope Francis had a restful night and was able to rest for a long time,” the Vatican said. “He is in good general condition, alert and breathing without assistance.”
Chief medical officer Sergio Alfieri said Wednesday the pope was “alert, awake and joking again” after the procedure. He endured two anesthetics, the doctor said, allaying fears there might be complications since Francis did not use anesthetics two years ago for his bowel surgery.
At the same time, Pope Francis is informed about all his followers, Bruni said. The Pope thanked them but asked for more prayers for his health.
The spiritual leader even spoke on the phone with a woman, whose child he had baptized at the end of March during his previous hospitalization with pneumonia.
The prayer service at the Vatican will continue as planned. A peaceful protest planned for Saturday in St. Peter’s Square will be held without the pope. The traditional prayer of the Angels is also scheduled for Sunday. The Pope leads this prayer at noon every Sunday as the crowd gathers in St.
In 2021, after bowel surgery for diverticulitis, the pope led this prayer from the balcony of the Gemelli Hospital.
The leader of 1.3 billion Catholics in the world has suffered from increasing health problems in the past year. Francis’ predecessor – Benedict XVI, who died in December – resigned in 2013 due to ill health.