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Pope Francis appoints personal health assistant he says 'saved my life'

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Pope Francis appoints personal health assistant he says 'saved my life'
Pope Francis holds a news conference aboard the papal plane on his flight back after visiting Canada, Saturday. Francis has appointed a personal health assistant that he credits with saving his life in 2021. Photo by Guglielmo Mangiapane/Pool/EPA-EFE

Aug. 4 (UPI) -- The Vatican said Thursday that Pope Francis now has a personal health assistant, a male nurse, who he said saved his life in 2021.

"A nurse, a man with a lot of experience, saved my life," Pope Francis told Spanish COPE radio after his colon surgery last summer.

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Massimiliano Strappetti, a Vatican nurse, was appointed by Pope Francis to help him with mobility problems.

"The Holy Father has nominated Massimiliano Strappetti, nurse coordinator of the Directorate of Health and Hygiene, as his personal healthcare assistant," the Vatican said in a short statement.

According to the Catholic News Agency, Strappetti will work with Pope Francis' personal physician Dr. Roberto Bernabei at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome.

Francis suffers from ongoing knee problems and last month said the door to his possible retirement is open. While he could go through that door some day, Francis said for now, "I haven't knocked on that door."

During an in-flight press conference Saturday, Pope Francis said, "I think that at my age and with this limitation I have to cut back a little bit to be able to serve the Church or on the contrary think about the possibility of stepping aside."

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