- By Thomas Mackintosh
- BBC News in London
Pope Francis presides in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, a day after leaving the hospital, to begin the events leading up to Easter.
When the 86-year-old left the hospital on Saturday, he confirmed that he would oversee the Palm Sunday ceremony followed by the Angelus prayer.
He joked that he was “still alive”.
“I felt a malaise, but I wasn’t scared,” Italian news agency Anza quoted him as saying.
After being discharged, the pontiff was seen smiling and waving from his car before addressing a crowd.
Then, instead of going home, his car drove past the Vatican and stopped at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. When he came out after praying, people in the street clapped and cheered: “Long live the Pope!”
During another stop, he got out of his vehicle to hand out chocolate Easter eggs to police officers riding motorcycles at the front of his motorcade, the Associated Press reported.
Holy Week involves a busy schedule of events and services that can be physically demanding.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Friday that the pope is expected to attend this weekend’s Mass for Palm Sunday.
“I can confirm that as he plans to leave the hospital tomorrow [Saturday]”Pope Francis is expected to attend Palm Sunday, the celebration of the Passion of the Lord, in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday,” Mr Bruni said in a statement.
According to details released by the Vatican, he will also preside over the popular Easter Mass next Sunday.
The Argentine pontiff, who marked 10 years as head of the Catholic Church earlier this month, has struggled with health problems throughout his life, including having part of his lung removed at the age of 21.
He also used a wheelchair in recent months due to problems with his knees.
Wednesday’s hospitalization was the second since 2021, when he underwent colon surgery at Gemelli.
But in February the Pope visited the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. The previous month, he presided over the funeral of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.
The pontiff, who has pushed for reforms in the Catholic Church, marked 10 years as its leader earlier this month.
Although he had previously said he would consider stepping down due to ill health, he recently confirmed that he has no plans to step down.
Pope’s schedule on Easter
April 2, Palm Sunday: 09:30 (07:30 GMT) Papal Mass, 12:00 Sunday Blessing
April 5: 09:00 Papal General Audience
April 6, Holy Thursday: 09:30 Christmas Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica
April 7, Good Friday: 17:00 Passion, 21:15 Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum
April 8, Holy Saturday: 20:30 Easter Vigil at St. Peter’s Basilica
April 9, Easter Sunday: 10:00 Easter Sunday Mass, 12:00 Urbi et Orbi in St. Peter’s Square
April 10, Easter Monday: 12:00, Baschetta in St. Peter’s Square