Pope Francis 'progressively improving' from lung infection in hospital

Pope Francis helped to get in his car at the end of weekly general audience in St Peter's Square, at the Vatican.
Pope Francis was hospitalised on Wednesday evening. Credit: AP

Pope Francis rested well overnight and was "progressively improving" on Thursday, the Vatican said.

On Wednesday evening, the 86-year-old pontiff was hospitalised with a respiratory infection, leading to concerns over his participation in upcoming events to mark Easter.

Francis, who has had part of one lung removed, ate breakfast, read several newspapers and was working from his hospital room at Rome's Gemelli hospital, according to a statement from Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.

"Before lunch he went to the little chapel in the private apartment, where he gathered in prayer and received the Eucharist," the statement said.

The Vatican said he would remain in hospital for several days of treatment, with all of his Friday audiences cancelled.

Francis is scheduled to celebrate Palm Sunday this weekend, although it is not currently clear how his medical condition could affect the Vatican's Holy Week observances, including Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday.

His hospitalisation was the first since he had 33 centimetres (13 inches) of his colon removed and spent ten days at the Gemelli hospital, in July 2021.

Before he was admitted to hospital on Wednesday, the pope had appeared in good spirits during his scheduled general audience. However, onlookers did note that he was grimacing as he entered and exited his car.

For the last year he has used a wheelchair due to strained ligaments in his right knee and a small knee fracture, although more recently he had been walking with a cane.

Francis said he resisted having surgery for his knee problems because he did not respond well to general anesthesia, during his intestinal surgery two years ago.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know