This is the first known hospital treatment of the Pope since his election to the papacy in 2013.
Pope Francis has been admitted to hospital in Rome for scheduled surgery on his large intestine, the Vatican has said.
The news came just three hours on Sunday after Francis cheerfully greeted the audience in St. Peter’s Square and told them he would be visiting Hungary and Slovakia in September.
The brief statement from the Holy See press office did not specify when the operation would be performed at the Gemelli Polyclinic, a Catholic university hospital, only that there would be a medical update when the operation was completed. .
But the Vatican said later that the operation would take place on the same day. It was the first known hospital treatment of the Pope since his election to the papacy in 2013.
The Vatican said the 84-year-old Pope had been diagnosed with “symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon,” a reference to a narrowing of the large intestine.
The operation was to be performed by Dr Sergio Alfieri, director of the digestive surgery department at Gemelli.
Pray for the Pope
A week earlier, Francis had taken advantage of his Sunday appearance to ask the audience for special prayers for himself, which, in hindsight, might have hinted at the planned operation.
“I ask you to pray for the Pope, pray in a special way”, Francis had asked the faithful in the square on June 27.
“The Pope needs your prayers,” he said, adding his thanks and saying, “I know you will do this. “
A diverticulum is a pocket-like protrusion through the muscular wall of the intestine.
When diverticula become inflamed – a common condition, especially in older people – a narrowing of this part of the intestine can sometimes occur and surgery may be necessary, according to gastroenterological experts.
Such surgery can be performed under general anesthesia, possibly with laparoscopic intervention. Sometimes resection of the affected part of the intestine is necessary.
Francis is generally in good health, but had part of a lung removed when he was a young man.
He also suffers from sciatica, in which a nerve affects his lower back and leg, a painful condition that sometimes caused him to skip scheduled appearances.
The Pope has had a series of particularly demanding appointments over the past week, including the celebration of a mass on Tuesday to mark the Catholic holiday in honor of Saints Peter and Paul, and later in the week the presidency of a special prayer service for Lebanon.
On June 28, he also had a long private audience at the Vatican with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Throughout these engagements, François seemed to be in a good mood.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella offered a “loving thought” on behalf of all Italians.
Mattarella added that he wished the Pope “a good recovery and even a faster recovery”.
Doctors at Gemelli have previously operated on a papal patient, including Pope John Paul II, who suffered what the Vatican said was a benign colon tumor removed in 1992.