Pope Expected to be Discharged from Hospital on Saturday, Vatican Says

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The Vatican said Francis' return to his Vatican residence at Santa Marta followed the results of final tests conducted Friday morning, adding that the presence of the Pope is now expected in St Peter's Square for Palm Sunday Mass this weekend.

Pope Francis is expected to be discharged from hospital on Saturday, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement Friday morning.

"His Holiness's return home to Santa Marta is expected for tomorrow, dependent on his latest medical test results carried out this morning," Bruni said, noting that the Pope's hospital stay has gone well "with normal medical progress".

Francis was admitted to the Policlinico A. Gemelli Hospital in Rome on Wednesday for the treatment of a respiratory infection that gave him breathing difficulties.

The 86-year-old was later diagnosed as having bronchitis. The Vatican said he was given antibiotics and he had responded well to them.

According to Friday's statement, Francis ate pizza for dinner on Thursday night alongside medical and police staff, and after breakfast Friday morning, "he read some newspapers and resumed his work".

"I can confirm that, since he is scheduled to leave the hospital tomorrow, Pope Francis is expected to be present in St. Peter's Square on Sunday for the Eucharistic celebration of Palm Sunday, the Passion of the Lord," Bruni added.

Francis on Thursday tweeted a message of thanks to those who had wished him well, saying: "I am touched by the many messages received in these hours and I express my gratitude for the closeness and prayer."

The Pope, who as a young man suffered from severe pneumonia and had part of a lung removed, has had a recent history of medical issues.

He has often been seen with a walking stick, and sometimes, uses a wheelchair due to pain in his right knee. 

Last year, he cancelled a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan after doctors said he might also have to miss a later trip to Canada unless he agreed to have 20 more days of therapy and rest for his knee. He ultimately visited the DRC and South Sudan in February.

Francis, who also suffers from diverticulitis - a common condition that can cause colon inflammation or infection - had surgery in 2021 to remove part of his colon.