Pilgrims and well-wishers gathered at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital to greet Pope Francis as he made his first public appearance in a week after undergoing intestinal surgery. Source: Catholic News Service.
Appearing on the 10th floor balcony of his suite of rooms at the hospital yesterday, the Pope was greeted with applause and shouts of “Viva il papa” (“Long live the Pope”) from the crowd that stood under the scorching midday sun to see him.
“I thank you all,” the Pope said. “I have felt your closeness and the support of your prayers. Thank you very much.”
Pope Francis arrived at Gemelli hospital on July 4 to undergo “a scheduled surgical intervention for a symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon,” the Vatican said. The Pope has recovered steadily from his surgery and resumed working from the hospital.
In his address, the pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St Mark, in which Jesus sent out his disciples to anoint the sick with oil and heal them.
The oil, he said, not only represents the comfort given through the sacramental anointing of the sick, but also symbolises “the closeness, the care, the tenderness of those who take care of the sick person”.
Pope Francis said that his time in the hospital gave him the opportunity to experience “once again how important good health care is” and that free, universal health care, especially for the most vulnerable, is a “precious benefit (that) must not be lost”.
Before praying the Angelus prayer with the faithful, Pope Francis expressed his “appreciation and encouragement” to the doctors, nurses and staff at Gemelli hospital. He also asked for prayers for the patients, especially the children, at the hospital, several of whom stood on the balcony with him.
Hundreds gather outside hospital to greet recovering pope (By Junno Arocho Esteves, CNS)
Pope at Angelus: healthcare for all is essential service (Vatican News)