VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to the medical staff at Rome’s Gemelli hospital after his recovery from intestinal surgery.

“Upon returning from my hospitalization, I feel the need to send a grateful and affectionate thought to you and, through you, to all those who form the great Gemelli hospital family,” the pope said in a letter to Carlo Fratta Pasini, chairman of the hospital’s board of directors.

“Like in a family, I received firsthand a fraternal welcome and heartfelt care that made me feel at home,” he wrote in the letter dated July 15.

The pope was admitted to Gemelli hospital in the early afternoon July 4 to undergo “a scheduled surgical intervention for a symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon.”

He underwent a three-hour surgery that included a left hemicolectomy, which is the removal of the descending part of the colon, a surgery that can be recommended to treat diverticulitis, when bulging pouches in the lining of the intestine or colon become inflamed or infected.

The pope recovered at the hospital for more than a week and was released July 14.

In his letter, Pope Francis said he experienced the medical staff’s “human sensibility and scientific professionalism” toward himself and the other patients at the hospital.

At the Gemelli, he said he found that “besides the care of the body, there is — and I pray that there will always be — the care of the heart as well through an integral and attentive care of the person, capable of instilling consolation and hope in moments of trial.”

That care, he added, is not only “delicate and demanding,” but also a “work of mercy that, through the sick, comes into contact with the wounded flesh of Jesus.”

“I am grateful to have seen it, to cherish it within me and to carry it to the Lord,” Pope Francis said.