Pope Francis Returns to Hospital for Hernia Operation

Pope Francis leaves in a wheelchair at the end of a funeral mass for late Slovakian Cardinal Jozef Tomko, on August 11, 2022 at St. Peter's Basilica in The Vatican. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP) (Photo by VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)

ROME — Pope Francis was hospitalized for an incisional hernia Wednesday morning and will undergo same-day major surgery under general anesthesia, the Vatican revealed.

In a communication to journalists, Matteo Bruni, the director of the Holy See Press Office, said Wednesday that the 86-year-old pontiff had been taken directly to Rome’s Gemelli University Hospital following his weekly general audience, where in the early afternoon he will undergo “a surgical operation of laparotomy and plastic surgery of the abdominal wall with prostheses under general anesthesia.”

The operation became necessary “due to an incarcerated incisional hernia that is causing recurring, painful and worsening sub-occlusive syndromes,” Bruni said.

According to the Vatican spokesman, the pope’s stay at the hospital will last “several days” to allow for the post-operative treatment and “full functional recovery.”

Pope Francis (C) leads the weekly general audience in Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City, 07 June 2023. Pope Francis will undergo abdominal surgery on 07 June afternoon at Rome’s Gemelli hospital, the Holy See announced. (Photo by Massimo Valicchia/NurPhoto via Getty)

In July 2021, Francis underwent intestinal surgery for diverticular stenosis and had 13 inches of his colon removed. On that occasion, the pope was also put under general anesthesia, with a team of ten doctors and experts in attendance.

At that time, Luis Badilla, editor of the semi-official Vatican news aggregator Il Sismografo, warned that the pope would “never be the same again.”

There is a significant detail that many “underestimate, ignore, or manipulate,” Badilla wrote, namely, “the disease that has affected Pope Francis is severe and degenerative” and “could also be chronic.”

In late March, Francis spent three days at Gemelli after complaining of breathing difficulties and pains in his chest. He was treated for a “respiratory infection” with intravenous antibiotics. On leaving the hospital, he joked with reporters, saying “I’m still alive!”

In February, Francis celebrated his tenth anniversary as pope to mixed reviews. In 2013 he was elected as the first pontiff from Latin America and the first from the Jesuit order, founded by Saint Ignatius Loyola.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.