This is the first known hospitalization since the pope was elected in 2013.
The Vatican announced that Pope Francis has been sent to Rome hospital for scheduled colon surgery.
The news was released on Sunday, three hours after Francis greeted the public cheerfully in St. Peter’s Square and told them that he would travel to Hungary and Slovakia in September.
The brief statement of the Press Office of the Holy See did not specify when the operation was performed at the Catholic teaching hospital Gemelli Polyclinic, only that there will be medical updates after the operation is completed.
But the Vatican later stated that the operation would be performed on the same day. This is the first known hospitalization since the pope was elected in 2013.
The Vatican stated that the 84-year-old pope was diagnosed with “symptomatic colonic diverticulum stenosis,” which refers to narrowing of the large intestine.
The operation was performed by Dr. Sergio Alfieri, Director of Gemelli Digestive Surgery.
Pray for the Pope
A week ago, Francis used his Sunday appearance to ask the public to pray for him in particular. In hindsight, this may have hinted at a planned operation.
“I ask you to pray for the Pope, pray in a special way,” Francis asked the believers in the square on June 27.
“The Pope needs your prayers,” he said, adding thanks and saying: “I know you will do it.”
A diverticulum is a bag-like protrusion that passes through the muscle wall of the intestine.
According to gastroenterologists, when the diverticulum becomes inflamed—a common condition, especially in elderly people—sometimes that part of the intestine becomes narrow and surgery may be required.
This operation can be performed under general anesthesia and may require laparoscopic intervention. Sometimes it is necessary to remove the affected part of the intestine.
Francis is in good health overall, but he did remove part of his lungs when he was young.
He also suffers from sciatica, in which nerves affect the lower back and legs, and this painful condition sometimes forces him to skip the scheduled playing time.
The pope had a particularly demanding set of appointments last week, including a mass on Tuesday to commemorate the Catholic holiday of Saints Peter and Paul, and a special prayer ceremony in Lebanon later this week.
On June 28, he also had a long private meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Brinken in the Vatican. In all these activities, Francis seemed to be full of energy.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella put forward “affectionate ideas” on behalf of all Italians.
Mattarella added that he hoped the Pope would “recover well, even faster.”
Dr. Gemelli had previously operated on a pope patient, especially Pope John Paul II. The Vatican stated that he had removed a benign tumor in the colon in 1992.