Pope Francis 'reacted well' to planned intestinal surgery

The Pope will have surgery in Rome. Credit: AP

The Vatican says Pope Francis has “reacted well” to planned intestinal surgery on Sunday evening at a Rome hospital.

Three hours before his surgery was announced, Francis had cheerfully greeted the public in St Peter’s Square in keeping with a Sunday tradition and told them he will go to Hungary and Slovakia in September.

The 84-year-old had the surgery at Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic.

The Vatican said the Pope had been diagnosed with “symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon”, a narrowing in the large intestine.

Pope Francis blesses the crowd at the Vatican Credit: Alessandra Tarantino/AP

Francis is in generally good health, but did have part of one lung removed as a young man. He also suffers from sciatica, occasionally having painful bouts of the condition that involves a nerve affecting the lower back and leg.

He had a particularly demanding set of appointments last week, including celebrating a Mass on Tuesday to mark the Catholic feast day honouring saints Peter and Paul, and later in the week presiding at a special prayer service for Lebanon.

On June 28, he had a long private audience at the Vatican with US secretary of state Antony Blinken.

Throughout all those engagements, Francis appeared to be in good spirits.

Gemelli doctors have performed surgery before on papal patients, including on John Paul II, who had a benign tumour in his colon removed in 1992.