(ROME) — Pope Francis is expected to leave the hospital Saturday morning after spending three days recovering from bronchitis, according to the Vatican press office.
“His Holiness’s return home to Santa Marta is expected for tomorrow, dependent on his latest medical test results carried out this morning,” director of the Holy See press office, Matteo Bruni, said in a statement Friday morning.
Bruni said the pontiff’s hospital stay has gone well “with normal medical progress.”
Francis, according to the statement, ate pizza for dinner last night, had breakfast this morning, read his newspapers and then went back to work.
“I can confirm that, since he is scheduled to leave the hospital tomorrow, Pope Francis is expected to be present in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday for the Eucharistic celebration of Palm Sunday, the Passion of the Lord,” Bruni added in his statement.
Francis, 86, was taken Wednesday to the Gemelli University Hospital after complaining of some respiratory difficulties and had tests performed.
“The outcome of these showed a respiratory infection (excluding Covid 19 infection) that will require several days of appropriate hospital medical treatment,” the press office said at the time.
Bronchitis occurs when the airways in the lungs, which are known as the bronchial tubes, become inflamed.
It often develops as a result of viral infections including the common cold, influenza and RSV, according to the National Institutes of Health.
It’s unknown what treatment the Pope is receiving aside from an “infusion-based antibiotic therapy,” according to the Vatican. The NIH says most cases of bronchitis clear up on their own with a mix of over-the-counter medications to relieve coughing and loosen mucus, drinking hot tea or water, and inhaler medications if needed.
The overnight stay marked the first time the Vatican has publicly announced that Francis has gone to the hospital since he underwent surgery to have part of his colon removed in July 2021 due to intestinal inflammation.
It’s previously been reported that the Pope had part of one lung removed as a young man because of a respiratory infection.
President Joe Biden sent well wishes to Francis during remarks at an event Wednesday celebrating Greek Independence Day.
“The pope is ill now, so say an extra prayer for him,” said Biden, who — in 2021 — became the first Roman Catholic U.S. leader in more than half a century to meet at the Vatican with the head of the Catholic Church.
On Thursday, Francis sent a message of thanks to those who’d wished him well.
“I am touched by the many messages received in these hours and I express my gratitude for the closeness and prayer,” he said on Twitter.
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