ROME – On Friday the Vatican announced that after spending two days in the hospital, Pope Francis is doing well and is expected to return to the Vatican in time for Holy Week, given his most recent test results.
Francis was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli hospital Wednesday afternoon after experiencing breathing difficulties and was diagnosed with bronchitis, which has been treated with antibiotics administered through an IV.
Thursday evening the Vatican said the pope was responding well to treatment and had been able to work and pray throughout the day.
In a statement Friday, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni the pope’s clinical status is “normal” and that before retiring Thursday evening, he ate pizza together with the doctors, nurses, medical assistants and staff, and members of the Vatican Gendarmes who are assisting him.
“After breakfast, he read some newspapers and resumed his work. His Holiness’s return home to Santa Marta is expected tomorrow, following the results of the latest tests this morning,” Bruni said.
Bruni also confirmed that, should Pope Francis be discharged Saturday as planned, the pontiff plans to be present for his Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square this weekend.
Various Italian media outlets have reported that different cardinals have been tapped to celebrate the Holy Week papal liturgies if Francis is unable to do so.
It is reported that if Francis is unable to celebrate Palm Sunday Mass himself, it will be Italian Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, vice dean of the Vatican’s College of Cardinals and prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, who celebrates at the altar.
Others who are lined up reportedly include Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the Vicar of Rome, for Holy Thursday’s Chrism Mass; Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper in St. Peter’s Basilica Thursday evening; and Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dean of the College of Cardinals, for Easter Mass next Sunday.