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Pope Francis says 'I'm still alive' as he leaves hospital

Vatican confirmed that he would preside over the Palm Sunday service

Pope Francis Pope Francis autographs the plaster cast of a child as he leaves the Agostino Gemelli University Hospital in Rome | AP

Pope Francis got discharged from the hospital on Saturday after being treated for bronchitis. Francis, before leaving the hospital premises told journalists, "I'm still alive you know."

The pope, 86, was hospitalised at Rome's Gemelli hospital on Wednesday after complaining of breathing difficulties. His medical team said Pope responded rapidly to an infusion of antibiotics. Looking to show he was fully recovered, Francis got out of his car before leaving the hospital grounds, using a walking stick to support himself, Reuters reported.

Pope greeted well-wishers and talked briefly to waiting reporters. Vatican confirmed that he would preside over the Palm Sunday service in St. Peter's Square.

Reuters reported before getting back into the car, Francis embraced a sobbing mother, whose young daughter had died in the hospital and also signed the plaster cast of a young boy with a broken arm and waved from the window of his car as he drove away.

Reuters reported that pope told reporters he was not afraid of hospitalisation. "In a hospital there is a lot of heroism, lots of tenderness for patients. You know sick people, we are capricious. Capriciousness comes with illness. You need to be patient," Reuters quoted the pope as saying.

Francis reportedly praised the staff at Gemelli hospital and appreciated the manner in which staff took care of children at the children's ward in the hospital.

The pope was last hospitalised in 2021 for surgery on his colon. Reuters reported that Giovanni Battista Re, the dean of the college of cardinals, said that a cardinal would help the pope during the week's celebrations and take care of altar duties.

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