VATICAN CITY — According to the Vatican, Pope Francis traveled to a Rome hospital on Sunday for planned surgery on his large intestine. The news arrived barely three hours after Francis enthusiastically greeted the public in St. Peter’s Square and announced his plans to visit Hungary and Slovakia in September.
The Holy See’s press office did not specify when the procedure would take place at the Gemelli Polyclinic, a Catholic teaching hospital, but did indicate that an announcement would be made after it was completed.
According to the Vatican, the 84-year-old Pope has been diagnosed with “symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon,” a constriction of the big intestine. Dr. Sergio Alfieri, Gemelli’s stomach surgery department director, was scheduled to do the procedure.
On June 27, Francis had encouraged the faithful in the plaza to pray for the pope uniquely, saying, “I ask you to pray for the pope, pray especially.” “The pope needs your prayers,” he continued, before thanking him and concluding, “I know you will.”
Francis is in good health, however, he did have part of one lung removed when he was younger. He also suffers from sciatica, which is a painful disease in which a nerve in the lower back and leg is affected. As a result, he has had to cancel appearances on occasion.
Last week, the pope had a very busy schedule, including performing a Mass on Tuesday to commemorate the Catholic feast day of Saints Peter and Paul, as well as presiding over a special prayer session for Lebanon later in the week. On June 28, he also held a lengthy private meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Vatican. Francis looked to be in high spirits for all of his engagements.
Pope John Paul II had a benign tumor in his colon removed in 1992, and Gemelli physicians had previously conducted surgery on papal patients.