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Pope Francis diagnosed with bronchitis after night in hospital, Vatican says

The pope was taken to Rome's Gemelli Hospital after complaining of breathing difficulties.

ROME — Pope Francis was diagnosed with bronchitis after he spent the night in a Rome hospital, the Vatican said Thursday.

The pope , 86, “could be discharged in the coming days,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement, adding that Francis spent the afternoon at Gemelli Hospital “devoting himself to rest, prayer and some work duties.”

He added that Francis was “found to have bronchitis on an infectious basis which required the administration of antibiotic therapy on an infusion basis which produced the expected effects with a marked improvement in his state of health.”

In an earlier statement, Bruni said the pope’s “clinical picture is progressively improving and he is continuing his planned treatment.”

He added that the pope “gathered in prayer and received the Eucharist” in the morning.

Francis was taken to the Gemelli after he complained of breathing difficulties, the Vatican said Wednesday, adding that he would spend a few days there.

Francis’ audiences through Friday were canceled, raising questions about his participation in the Vatican’s Holy Week activities and about his health in general.

A tweet from Francis’ account Thursday said he was “touched by the many messages received.”

Francis had part of one lung removed when he was a young man because of a respiratory infection, and he often speaks in a whisper.

He spent 10 days in the hospital after 2021 surgery for an intestinal narrowing, which included the removal of 13 inches of his colon.

Francis is due to celebrate Palm Sunday this weekend, kicking off the Vatican’s Holy Week observances: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and finally Easter Sunday on April 9.

He has used a wheelchair for over a year because of strained ligaments in his right knee and a small knee fracture. He has said that the injury was healing and that he has been walking more with a cane of late.

Pope Francis appears in discomfort as he gets into car at the Vatican on Wednesday.
Pope Francis is helped into his vehicle outside the Vatican on Wednesday. Alessandra Tarantino / AP

Francis also has said he resisted having surgery for the knee problems because he did not respond well to the general anesthesia during the 2021 intestinal surgery.

He said soon after the surgery that he had recovered fully and could eat normally. But in a January interview with The Associated Press, he said his diverticulosis, or bulges in the intestinal wall, had “returned.”

Claudio Lavanga reported from Rome and Henry Austin from London.