Following a hernia operation, Pope Francis left the hospital on Friday and made his way to the Vatican, where his health will come under increased scrutiny before a busy summer.
At 8:45 a.m. (06:45 GMT), a beaming Francis exited the Gemelli hospital in Rome on a wheelchair and thanked the onlookers.
The 86-year-old has suffered a series of health issues since his election in 2013, from hip problems, knee pain and weight gain to an inflamed colon and respiratory infection.
The Argentinian underwent a three-hour operation under general anaesthetic on June 7 to remove a painful hernia on the site of a scar from a previous surgery.
It was his third stay in hospital since 2021.
Doctors said he was cheerful on waking after last week’s operation, cracking jokes with the medical team, and the hospital has published regular updates since then detailing his steady recovery.
The Vatican cancelled papal audiences until June 18 to give the pontiff time to recover.
But Francis was quick to start working again from his suite in Rome’s Gemelli hospital, which is the favoured choice of pontiffs to the point of being dubbed “Vatican III” by John Paul II.
He had quipped that “Vatican number one” was St. Peter’s Square, Vatican number two was the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, and the Gemelli was number three.
Doctors said Thursday that Francis could go home on Friday morning. The pontiff spent his last day doing the rounds in a wheelchair and thanking the doctors and nurses who looked after him.
He also visited children in the paediatric oncology and child neurosurgery department, some of whom had sent him letters and drawings wishing him a speedy recovery, the Vatican said.