Pope Francis, who underwent a hernia operation on Wednesday, had a good first night in the hospital and is recovering well, according to the Vatican. The 86-year-old pontiff had a laparotomy, a surgical procedure that involves opening the abdomen to remove scar tissue and repair a hernia that was causing him pain and discomfort.
The Vatican said the operation was successful and there were no complications. The pope is expected to stay in the hospital for several days.
The hernia was likely a consequence of Francis’ previous surgeries, including one in 2021 that removed part of his colon due to diverticulitis, an inflammation of pouches that form in the lining of the intestine.
The pope also had other abdominal operations before he became pope in 2013, when he was still archbishop of Buenos Aires. The Vatican did not provide details about those surgeries.
The pope’s health has been a source of concern for many Catholics, who admire his humble and energetic leadership of the church. Francis has also suffered from chronic sciatica, a nerve condition that causes pain in his lower back and legs. He has also had cataract surgery and part of his lung removed when he was young.
Despite his health issues, Francis has maintained a busy schedule of activities and travels. He is planning to attend the World Youth Day in Portugal in August and visit Mongolia in September. He also holds weekly general audiences at St. Peter’s Square, where he greets pilgrims and delivers catechesis. On Wednesday, before going to the hospital, he spoke about the importance of prayer and solidarity in times of difficulty.
The pope is being treated at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome, where a special suite on the 10th floor is reserved for popes. He is under the care of Dr. Sergio Alfieri, the director of abdominal and endocrine sciences at the hospital, who also performed his colon surgery last year. Alfieri said Francis was alert and joking after the operation. “When will we do the third one?” he quoted him as saying.