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Pope Francis gives his blessing at the end of his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican yesterday, before heading to Gemelli Hospital for surgery (CNS/Lola Gomez)

Pope Francis is conscious and alert after a three-hour abdominal surgery that was performed “without complications” to treat a hernia, the Vatican said. Source: OSV News.

The 86-year-old Pope was taken to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital shortly after his general audience yesterday. He was put under general anaesthesia and underwent abdominal surgery to treat a hernia that developed at the site of abdominal incisions from previous operations, Sergio Alfieri, the chief surgeon operating on the Pope, said at a news conference at the hospital following the operation.

Dr Alfieri said Pope Francis had a number of internal scars and adhesions from two operations many years ago, possibly in Argentina; one was to treat peritonitis – inflammation of abdominal tissue – caused by an infected gallbladder and another to treat hydatid disease caused by cysts containing a parasite. It was this last operation that had left behind scars in the Pope’s abdominal tissue where another hernia had developed.

Dr Alfieri said that during the three-hour operation, adhesions were found between the intestine and the membrane that lines the abdomen, that for months caused an “aggravating, painful” intestinal blockage.

The adhesions were freed during the surgery and the opening in the abdomen’s wall that led to the hernia was repaired with prosthetic mesh.

Before going to the hospital the Pope seemed well and in good spirits, holding his general audience as usual, riding in the popemobile, blessing babies, walking with a cane and meeting special guests afterward. 

While Dr Alfieri said recovery for this operation typically lasts about seven days. Vatican News reported that the Pope’s audiences have been cancelled until June 18 as a “precaution”.


Pope Francis undergoes successful three-hour surgery for hernia (By Justin McLellan, CNS via OSV News)


Pope conscious, alert and ‘joking’ after surgery (Vatican News)

Pope Francis prayed with relic of St. Thérèse of Lisieux before surgery (CNA)