*** ----> After pizza and prayer Pope set to leave hospital today | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

After pizza and prayer Pope set to leave hospital today

AFP | Vatican City                                                  

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com    

Pope Francis is expected to return home on Saturday after what will have been three nights in hospital with bronchitis, and will attend Palm Sunday services, the Vatican said.

The 86-year-old has responded well to antibiotics and on Thursday evening shared pizza with staff looking after him at Rome’s Gemelli hospital, spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

The Argentine pontiff, who had part of one lung removed as a young man, has suffered increasing health issues in recent years, and it was his second stay in hospital since 2021. Yesterday morning, he had breakfast, read some newspapers and did some work in the private papal suite on hospital’s 10th floor where he was admitted on Wednesday after complaining of breathing problems.

“His Holiness’s return home to Santa Marta (his Vatican home) is expected tomorrow, in the wake of the results of the latest tests this morning,” Bruni said yesterday. He said Pope Francis was set to preside over Palm Sunday mass in St Peter’s Square, which marks the beginning of Holy Week and Easter, Christianity’s most important holiday.

This means the pope will stay seated while someone else -- likely a senior cardinal -- performs the ceremony at the altar. The mass is due to be followed by the pope’s regular Sunday Angelus prayer. Francis’ hospitalization, just weeks after he marked 10 years as head of the worldwide Catholic Church, had sparked widespread concern.

He has repeatedly said he would consider stepping down if his health failed him, following the example of his predecessor Benedict XVI -- but said in February that for now, he had no plans to quit.

The Vatican initially said Francis was hospitalized for pre-planned checks, before later revealing he had been complaining of breathing difficulties.

In a Vatican-issued statement, medical staff said late Thursday that Francis was suffering from an “infectious bronchitis which required the administration of antibiotics”