Upbeat Pope Leaves Hospital to Celebrate Palm Sunday

News: World News
by Jules Gomes  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  April 1, 2023   

Vatican transforms St. Peter's Square into flower garden for Holy Week

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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - After being admitted on Wednesday for viral bronchitis, an upbeat Pope Francis left Rome's Agostino Gemelli University Hospital on Saturday morning. He joked, "I wasn't frightened; I'm still alive." 

Pope Francis baptizes Miguel Angel at Gemelli Hospital

On his way to the Vatican, Francis stopped at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore where he prayed in front of the Marian icon Salus Populi Romani (Protectress of the Roman People), Matteo Bruni, the director of the Holy See Press Office, told reporters.

The Holy Father entrusted to the Mother of God "the children he met yesterday in the Pediatric Oncology and Child Neurosurgery department of the hospital, all the sick and those who suffer from illness and the loss of their dear ones," Bruni elaborated.

When he emerged after praying, residents and tourists in the street clapped and called out repeatedly, "Long live the pope!"

Francis returned immediately to official business. In an audience later in the day, he received Cdl. Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops. 

The Vatican released the order of service for Palm Sunday, announcing that the 86-year-old pontiff would preside at the concelebration of the Holy Eucharist marking the beginning of Holy Week. 

Francis will preside at the Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square and the Maundy Thursday Eucharist at a juvenile prison in Rome. The Vatican has yet to confirm if he will attend Good Friday's late-night, torchlit Stations of the Cross at Rome's Colosseum.

We sick are capricious. I much admire the people who work in hospitals.

Surrounded by papal aides, the papal white Fiat 500 car stopped to allow Francis to meet reporters and talk to well-wishers at the main entrance of the hospital, where the pope autographed a boy's arm cast. 

"We sick are capricious. I much admire the people who work in hospitals" because "they show great tenderness," the pope told journalists as he left the Gemelli Polyclinic. Francis also praised journalists' accounts of his illness, commenting that he read them while in the hospital.


While in the hospital, the pope visited the children in the pediatric oncology ward for about an hour and gave them rosaries, chocolate Easter eggs and copies of an Italian book for children about Jesus titled Born in Jerusalem of Judaea, the Holy See Press Office said. 

The Holy Father also baptized a little boy called Miguel Angel and told the baby's mother to tell the parish where the baptism will be registered that "the pope baptized him!"

Long live the pope!

"In the evening, Pope Francis had dinner, eating pizza, together with those who are assisting him during these days of his hospital stay," including the doctors, nurses, assistants and staff of the gendarmerie, Bruni told reporters.

Just before leaving the hospital, Francis comforted Serena Subania and her husband, a Roman couple whose 5-year-old daughter Angelica died Friday night. Mrs. Subania sobbed as she pressed her head into the chest of the pope, who embraced her and whispered words of comfort.

Francis prays before the Marian icon of Salus Populi Romani

Francis stopped again to talk to reporters before he was driven into the Vatican through a gate of the tiny walled city-state, where he lives at a Holy See hotel. Speaking through an open car window, he said, "Happy Easter to all, and pray for me."

The pontiff stopped again before reaching Casa Santa Marta and got out of his car to distribute chocolate Easter eggs to the police officers riding the motorcycles at the head of his motorcade.

On Saturday, the Governorate of the Vatican City State announced that St. Peter's Square would be transformed into a flower garden "to celebrate Easter and express the joy of Christ's resurrection."

Over 35,000 flowering plants from Holland will cover the parvis of St. Peter's Basilica, and workers from the Vatican's Gardens and Environment Service will spend Good Friday and Holy Saturday decorating the piazza with floral decorations in time for Easter Sunday. 

For Palm Sunday (April 2), olive branches will be provided by the National Association of Oil Towns, by the mayors of the Umbria Region Oil Towns, and the floriculture company Flora Holland of Rome will lend large olive trees to be placed near the statues of Sts. Peter and Paul, at the foot of the churchyard and the obelisk.


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