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Pope Francis will be discharged from the hospital on Saturday

Pope Francis.
Vincenzo Pinto
/
AFP via Getty Images
Pope Francis.

Updated March 31, 2023 at 1:12 PM ET

ROME — The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will be discharged from the hospital on Saturday, three days after he was hospitalized for respiratory problems. He was diagnosed with bronchitis.

In a brief statement, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the 86-year-old pope had a good day Thursday and dined on pizza with the hospital's medical staff, read newspapers and caught up with his work.

On Friday, Francis spent time with children being treated in Gemelli Hospital's pediatric oncology ward, the Vatican said, adding that he brought chocolate Easter eggs for the kids and performed a baptism.

Pope Francis baptizes a baby at Rome's Gemelli Hospital, where the pope is being treated, on Friday.
/ Vatican
/
Vatican
Pope Francis baptizes a baby at Rome's Gemelli Hospital, where the pope is being treated, on Friday.

The spokesman said the pope is slated to return to the Vatican on Saturday following his latest medical tests.

Due to a chronic knee problem, the pope had already stopped celebrating mass during major Catholic holy days but attended the ceremonies and delivered homilies.

Bruni said Francis will be present Sunday for Palm Sunday ceremonies.

Easter week has an intense liturgical calendar, culminating with a late-night Good Friday procession and a long papal speech delivered on Easter from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sylvia Poggioli is senior European correspondent for NPR's International Desk covering political, economic, and cultural news in Italy, the Vatican, Western Europe, and the Balkans. Poggioli's on-air reporting and analysis have encompassed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia, and how immigration has transformed European societies.