Pope Francis holds first mass since hospitalization

He will be leading other events during Holy Week following a bout of bronchitis

After being discharged from the hospital after bronchitis, Pope Francis presided at Palm Sunday mass and urged the world to care more for the poor, the lonely, and the sick.

Pope Francis led Palm Sunday mass today after being discharged from the hospital due to bronchitis. He urged the world to care more for the poor, the lonely, and the sick.

Thousands of people waved palms and olive branches as the pope was led into St Peter’s Square seated in the back of his white convertible “popemobile” before the start of the two-hour mass.

“I thank you for your prayers, which intensified in the last few days. Truly, thank you,” he said at the end of the mass, referring to his recent illness, and prompting loud applause from the crowd.

The 86-year-old pope was taken to Rome’s Gemelli hospital on Wednesday after complaining of breathing difficulties, but quickly recovered after an infusion of antibiotics and returned to his Vatican residence on Saturday.

To dispel doubts about his health, the Vatican has announced that he will participate in all the events of the upcoming Holy Week, the busiest period in the Roman Catholic Church’s calendar, beginning with the open-air Palm Sunday mass.

The Pontiff, dressed in red, spoke in a calm but clear voice to a crowd estimated by police at 60,000. He remained seated for most of the mass, but at the end, he rose to give the final blessing.

In his homily, he asked people not to ignore those who experience great suffering and loneliness.

“Today there are so many who have abandoned Christ. There are whole villages exploited and abandoned to their fate; poor people living on our street corners with whom we dare not to look at; there are migrants who are no longer faces but numbers; there are rejected prisoners; people who are labeled as problems,” he said.

At the end of the Mass, the Pope remembered, as he often does, “the mistreated Ukrainian people”, and urged the faithful to pray to end the war.

Greeting the crowd

Francis, who celebrated the tenth anniversary of his pontificate in March, has suffered from several medical ailments in recent years — including severe knee pain which has forced him to use a cane and often a wheelchair for public appearances.

“We are thrilled to see him and, considering what has happened in the last few days, we think he looks good,” said Antonio Donatelli, a tourist from southern Italy.

Palm Sunday marks the day when, according to the Bible, Jesus entered Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowds, the week before Christians believe he rose from the dead after his execution on the Cross.

On Maundy Thursday, Francis will celebrate Mass at a juvenile prison in Rome, but it was not yet clear whether he would take part in the traditional Good Friday Stations of the Cross procession around Rome’s ancient Colosseum.

However, the Pope, leader of the world’s nearly 1.4 billion Roman Catholics, will lead mass on Easter Sunday, the most crucial day in the Christian liturgical calendar, where he is expected to read his “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city and the world”) message.



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