Pope Francis joked that he is “still alive” as he left the hospital in Rome where he spent the past few days being treated for a respiratory infection.
He stopped to talk to well wishers and journalists after being discharged from Rome’s Gemelli hospital on Saturday morning.
The Pontiff was in good spirits when he replied to CNN’s Delia Gallagher’s questions about how he was feeling, telling her “[I’m] still alive, you know!”
When asked if he got scared on Wednesday due to his respiratory problems, the Pope recalled what an “old man” told him after going through a similar situation.
“An old man, older than me, told me after a situation like this: ‘Father, I didn’t see death, but I saw it coming. It’s ugly, eh!’”
He also embraced a couple who the Vatican said lost their daughter the previous night.
After leaving the hospital, Pope Francis paid a visit to one of Rome’s most famous churches, Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, and prayed for the sick children he met while being treated, the Vatican added.
Pope Francis, 86, was taken to Gemelli hospital on Wednesday and given antibiotics to treat infectious bronchitis.
The pontiff – 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 canceled a trip to 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 went to the DRC and South Sudan in February.
Francis also suffers from diverticulitis, a common condition that can cause the inflammation or infection of the colon. In 2021, he had surgery to remove part of his colon.
The Pope is expected to participate in a Palm Sunday Mass service in St Peter’s Square.