ROME — Pope Francis returned to the Vatican from Rome’s Gemelli Hospital Saturday, once again confounding the prophets of his demise.
“This morning, Saturday, April 1, Pope Francis was discharged from the Gemelli University Hospital,” Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican Press Office, said in a statement.
Bruni went on to note that before leaving the facility, Francis greeted the rector of the Catholic University and his team, the director of the hospital, and the team of doctors and health workers who assisted him during these days.
As Francis was leaving the hospital, a reporter asked him how he was doing, to which the pope replied, “I’m still alive.”
The pontiff spent his third night in the hospital Friday, having been rushed there in an ambulance Wednesday afternoon after complaining of breathing difficulties and pains in his chest.
The Vatican Press Office said the pope was being treated for a “respiratory infection,” which would require several days in the hospital and on Thursday, papal spokesman Matteo Bruni said that Francis was being treated with antibiotics for viral bronchitis.
During the pope’s short stint in hospital, rumors raged as to possible health scenarios, fueled in part by the Vatican’s proverbial obfuscating press statements.
As one prominent Catholic news site put it, we are “unlikely to get honest announcements out of the Holy See press office, let alone real-time updates, on Francis’ health.”
The site offered a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that the Vatican’s announcements on the pope’s health would look like like: “The pope is in perfect health.” “The pope is currently heli-skiing.” “The pope has a mild cold.” “The pope intends to complete an Ironman Triathlon next month.” “The pope died two weeks ago.”
Francis seemed anxious to puts rumors of his imminent demise to rest, having his spokesman leak news that he was eating pizza and promenading about the hospital during his stay.
Just weeks ago, Pope 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.