ROME (AP) — Sticking to doctors' advice, Pope Francis on Sunday skipped his customary Sunday noon public blessing as he convalesces from abdominal surgery, but he followed Mass on TV from a Rome hospital and prayed in private, the Vatican said.
Francis also ate lunch in his 10-floor hospital apartment with doctors, nurses, other medical staff and members of his Vatican security detail, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a written statement.
The surgeon who performed the three-hour surgery Wednesday to repair an abdominal hernia and to remove painful internal scarring that had resulted from previous operations said the 86-year-old pontiff had begun a semi-liquid diet.
Dr. Sergio Alfieri also told reporters that medical staff had made clear to Francis their concerns that even if the pontiff delivered the noon public blessing and greeting from a balcony down the corridor from his hospital room, he might over-exert himself and tear a prosthetic mesh that was inserted as part of the hernia repair.
If that happened, it would require another operation. The public blessing usually takes about 15 minutes.
Citing the assessment of medical personnel, Bruni said Sunday the pontiff's recovery was proceeding normally. “He did respiratory physiotherapy and continued to be mobile,” Bruni said.
As a young man, Francis had part of a lung removed due to infection, so his pulmonary function is keenly watched. In March, the pontiff spent a few days in the same hospital for intravenous antibiotic treatment of bronchitis that had caused Francis to run a fever.
On Sunday morning, the pope "followed Holy Mass live on television and received the Eucharist,'' Bruni said. Francis then recited the traditional noon prayer known as the Angelus in a small chapel area of the papal apartment that Gemelli keeps ready for whenever pontiffs might need hospitalization.
No date has been announced for Francis' return to the Vatican. But Alfieri on Saturday revealed that medical staff were encouraging him to spend all of this week at the hospital so he would be in better shape to manage his heavy work load once he went home.
Two years ago, when Francis had surgery to remove a section of his colon that had narrowed, the pontiff, flanked by a few hospitalized children, delivered a Sunday blessing from a 10th-floor hospital balcony, seven days after that procedure. He was discharged 10 days after the operation.