Pope Francis was discharged from a Rome hospital and returned home to the Vatican on Wednesday, 10 days after undergoing surgery to remove half his colon.
Francis, 84, stopped at St. Mary Major Basilica to give thanks for the success of the operation and pray for others before returning home, the Vatican said.
The pope always visits the basilica after a foreign trip to pray at a beloved icon of the Virgin Mary.
Francis rode in the passenger seat of the Ford sedan, which left Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic around 10:45 a.m. (0845 GMT; 4:45 a.m. EDT).
After the detour to the basilica, his small motorcade approached a side entrance to the Vatican and stopped before reaching the gate, where Francis got out with the help of a bodyguard.
He greeted some Italian security guards — two army soldiers and a handful of Italian police motorcycle escorts — and got back in the car, which then proceeded through the Perugino gate.
The Vatican hotel where Francis lives is located just inside the gate. Francis had half of his colon removed on July 4 for a severe narrowing of his large intestine, his first major surgery since he became pope in 2013.
It was a planned procedure, scheduled for early July when his audiences are suspended anyway and Francis would normally take some time off.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni confirmed Francis’ return from the hospital and visit to the basilica.
Praying before the icon, Francis “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,” Bruni said in the statement.
Francis will have several more weeks to recover before traveling again in September.
There are plans for him to visit Hungary and Slovakia from Sept. 12-15, and then make a quick stop in Glasgow, Scotland, in November to participate in the COP26 climate conference. Other possible trips are also under review.
The Vatican had originally said Francis could be discharged last weekend, but later said he would stay a few extra days for further recovery and rehabilitation therapy.—AP