Pope Francis arrives at Vatican 10 days after surgery

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Pope Francis is greeted by hospital staff as he sits in a wheelchair inside the Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome, Sunday, July 11, 2021, where he was hospitalized for intestine surgery. (Vatican Media via AP)

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis arrived at the Vatican after he was discharged from a Rome hospital Wednesday, 10 days after a planned surgery to remove half of his colon.

Pope Francis appears with some young oncologic patients at a balcony of the Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome, Sunday, July 11, 2021, where he was hospitalized for intestine surgery, to deliver his traditional Sunday blessing. (Vatican Media via AP)

The Ford car carrying Francis stopped briefly at the side entrance to Vatican City. Francis emerged from the passenger seat with the aid of a bodyguard to greet some security guards standing outside.

He then got back in the car and proceeded to enter the Vatican through the Perugino Gate.

The Pope had half of his colon removed for a severe narrowing of his large intestine on July 4, his first major surgery since he became pope in 2013. It was a planned procedure, scheduled for early July when the Pope’s audiences are suspended anyway and he would normally take time off.

Pope Francis is greeted by a nun as he sits in a wheelchair inside the Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome, Sunday, July 11, 2021, where he was hospitalized for intestine surgery. (Vatican Media via AP)

Francis will have several more weeks to recover before beginning to travel again in September. There are plans for him to visit Hungary and Slovakia in a September 12-15 trip, and then make a quick stop in Glasgow, Scotland, in November to participate in a climate conference. Other possible trips are also under review.

Pope Francis appears with some young oncologic patients at a balcony of the Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome, Sunday, July 11, 2021, where he was hospitalized for intestine surgery, to deliver his traditional Sunday blessing. (Vatican Media via AP)

The Vatican had originally said Francis could be discharged last weekend, but later said he would stay a few days extra for further recovery and rehabilitation therapy.

The Pope appeared for the first time in public since the surgery on Sunday, looking in good form as he delivered his weekly prayer from the 10th floor hospital balcony, surrounded by young cancer patients. He used the occasion to call for free health care for all.

Pope Francis appears at a balcony of the Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome, Sunday, July 11, 2021, where he was hospitalized for intestine surgery, to deliver his traditional Sunday blessing. (Vatican Media via AP)

On Tuesday afternoon, the eve of his release, he visited the pediatric cancer ward, which is located on the same floor as the papal hospital suite.

Pope Francis also had part of one lung removed when he was a young man, but has otherwise enjoyed relatively good health.

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