Pope Francis leaves hospital after 10 days treatment

Pope Francis at Santa Maria Maggiore

  VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis was on Wednesday morning released from Rome's Gemelli Hospital, where he had been recovering following a scheduled colon surgery on July 4. After 10 days of observation at the hospital, much longer than was previously planned, he left the hospital at around 10:30 a.m..

  Before returning to his residence in Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican, the pontiff stopped at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, where according to a Vatican statement, "before the icon of the Virgin Mary Salus populi romani, he expressed his gratitude for the success of his surgery and offered a prayer for all the sick, especially those he had met during his stay in hospital."

  Speaking in hospital on Wednesday morning before he left, the pope said, "in these days of my recovery in hospital, I experienced once again how important a good health service is, accessible to all, as there is in Italy and in other countries. A free health service that ensures a good service accessible to all. Do not miss this precious asset. You must keep it! And for this we must all commit ourselves, because it serves everyone and needs everyone's contribution. Even in the Church it sometimes happens that some health care institution, for poor management, is not good economically, and the first thought that comes to us is to sell it. But the vocation, in the Church, is not to have money, it is to do service, and service is always free. Do not forget this: save free institutions."

  The pontiff also spared "a special thought to those who, bedridden, cannot return home: may they live this time as an opportunity, even if lived in pain, to open with tenderness to the sick brother or sister in the next bed, with whom we share the same human frailty."