86-year-old Pope Francis has finally been discharged from hospital following a brief stay that involved scheduled tests and treatment for bronchitis.
While leaving, the jovial pontiff jokingly told journalists and well wishers before being driven away: ‘I’m still alive.’
Francis was hospitalized on Wednesday at Gemelli Polyclinic after reportedly having breathing difficulties following his weekly public audience.
The pontiff was treated with antibiotics administered intravenously, the Vatican said.
On Friday, the Argentine pope visited the children’s cancer ward at the hospital, handing out chocolate Easter eggs and baptising a weeks-old baby boy.
As he left on Saturday, he reached out to bless sick people, and stopped to hug and pray with distraught parents whose young daughter had just died, the Vatican confirmed.
Francis sat in the front seat of the white Fiat 500 car that drove him away from Gemelli Polyclinic.
The pontiff’s hospitalization has led to worldwide concern about the pope’s health.
In a Friday statement, however, Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said that Francis’ recovery had been ‘normal.’
‘Yesterday (went) well, with a normal clinical recovery,” Bruni said.
On Thursday evening ‘Pope Francis had dinner, eating a pizza, together with all those who are assisting him in these days of the hospital stay.’
Annamaria Montio, a physiotherapist student at Gemelli, told the New York Times that Francis was in good hands at the hospital.
‘I am sure he’s going to make it – he has such a strong spirit,’ Montio told the outlet.
The spokesperson later added that, if the pope returns to the Vatican as expected on Saturday, he will be present St. Peter’s Square for Palm Sunday Mass – which marks the start of the Holy Week celebrations leading up to Easter.