Pope Francis speaks to the press as he leaves the Agostino Gemelli Hospital in Rome on Saturday following a two-day stay for a respiratory infection. Photo by Angelo Carconi/EPA-EFE
April 1 (UPI) -- Pope Francis was released from Gemelli Hospital in Rome on Saturday after two days of treatment for bronchitis, the Vatican announced.
Francis greeted several hospital officials who had helped him during his brief stay as he left the facility, according to official Vatican media.
The 86-year-old pontiff stopped his car briefly to greet well wishers and prayed with a couple who had lost their daughter during the night.
Asked how he felt, Francis responded, "Still alive, you know," the Italian news agency ANSA reported, adding that pope confirmed he would be celebrating Palm Sunday Mass at St Peter's on Sunday.
The Argentine pontiff, referring to press speculation he could retire due like his predecessor Benedict XVI, commented, "Did you see all the mess (they created)?"
He later arrived at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore where he offered prayers for "all the sick and those suffering due to the illness or loss of loved ones," Vatican officials said.
Among those receiving special prayers from Francis were children he met Friday in the hospital's pediatric oncology and neurosurgery wards.
Francis was diagnosed with viral bronchitis after he was admitted to Gemelli Hospital in Rome following a scheduled check-up on Wednesday.
Francis has been seen in a wheelchair in recent months after suffering from sciatica and knee problems throughout his tenure as pope.
Francis previously spent 10 days at Gemmelli, where he had part of his colon removed due to diverticulosis in 2021.