ROME – Roughly two months after a brief hospitalization, and just days after he was forced to cancel a morning’s audiences due to a fever, Pope Francis made an unannounced return to Rome’s Gemelli hospital Tuesday morning for what the Vatican described as a medical checkup.
In a brief statement at roughly 2:20 p.m. Rome time, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said, “This morning Pope Francis went to the Gemelli Hospital for some clinical tests and returned to the Vatican before midday.”
The Italian news agency Ansa was the first to break the news mid-morning that Francis was at the Gemelli. The Italian state broadcaster RAI eventually reported that he arrived around 10:40a.m. and left about 11:20a.m., staying for less than an hour.
According to RAI, the pope visited the hospital’s Center for Medicine of the Aging, where he reportedly underwent a nuclear medicine exam, which is used to ascertain information about the state of internal organs and tissues. Those reports have not been officially confirmed.
Pope Francis underwent an invasive colon surgery at the Gemelli hospital in July 2021 for a condition known as “stenotic diverticulitis,” meaning a restriction of the colon with possible inflammation or infection of pouches inside the walls of the large intestine.
He was discharged after 10 days, but in an interview with the Associated Press in late January, the pope said his diverticulitis had “returned,” though he commented at the time that he was in good health for his age.
Though the pope’s visit to Gemelli Tuesday was apparently planned in advance, it had not been previously announced, causing alarm in light of his other recent health scares.
On Friday, May 26, Francis cancelled his morning meetings and appointments due to what Bruni described as “a feverish state,” though no other information was provided.
He was hospitalized in late March with a respiratory infection which the Vatican later said was diagnosed as bronchitis, for which he received intravenous antibiotic treatment and was released after three days.
In addition to his colon surgery, Pope Francis had part of one lung removed after a severe bout of pneumonia as a young man. More recently, in 2019 he underwent ocular surgery at Rome’s Clinic of Pius XI to treat a cataract, and he’s also struggled with chronic sciatica pain.
For the past year he also experienced knee troubles that have largely confined him to the use of a cane or a wheelchair.