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Pope Francis is assisted at the end of his general audience in leaving St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 29, 2023. (OSV News photo/Antoine Mekary)

More than 24 hours after he entered the hospital, Pope Francis’ doctors reported a “marked improvement” in his condition, which they attributed to treatment with intravenous antibiotics.

According to an update on the state of his health from medical staff at the Gemelli Hospital, Francis has an “infectious based bronchitis that required the administration of an infusion [intravenous] based antibiotic therapy.” The report said the medical team discovered this when they conducted “planned clinical tests” on the 86-year-old pontiff, who was hospitalized yesterday.

[A Prayer for Pope Francis During his Hospitalization]

The medical report, made available to the Vatican accredited media on the evening of March 30 through the Vatican press office, said the antibiotic therapy “has produced the desired effect with a net improvement of his state of health.”

The doctors predict that if his improvement continues as expected, “the Holy Father could be discharged from hospital in the coming days.”

The medical report confirmed the information circulating in Italian media about Pope Francis’ state of health. It revealed there is no reason for major concern and hinted that he could be back in the Vatican before Holy Week. But it seems unlikely that he will be able to preside at the Palm Sunday ceremony in St. Peter’s Square, especially given fluctuating temperatures in Rome at this time of year. But there was no mention of this in any of today’s bulletins.

More than 24 hours after he entered the hospital, Pope Francis’ doctors reported a “marked improvement” in his condition, which they attributed to treatment with intravenous antibiotics.

The director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, also provided information to the media about the pope’s condition in the suite on the 10th floor of the Gemelli Hospital where he spent 10 days in July 2021 and where St. John Paul II was hospitalized on seven occasions.

“Pope Francis passed the afternoon at the Gemelli Hospital dedicating himself to rest, prayer, and some work duties,” Mr. Bruni said.

Earlier in the day, the Vatican said the pope “rested well” his first night in the hospital and was “steadily improving” from what it described as a respiratory infection.

He spent the morning reading some newspapers, eating breakfast and had “resumed working,” the Vatican had said. Before lunch, he went to the chapel near his hospital room to pray, and he received Communion.

The Vatican said that the pope had complained of “some respiratory difficulties” in recent days and was admitted to the hospital for medical tests, the results of which detected a “respiratory infection” but excluded Covid-19.

“Pope Francis passed the afternoon at the Gemelli Hospital dedicating himself to rest, prayer, and some work duties,” Mr. Bruni said.

The 86-year-old pope is missing a piece of his lung that was removed in 1957 when he was 20 years old and training to become a priest in his native Argentina. He has insisted the operation has had no lasting impact on his health.

Photographers, television cameras and reporters waited outside the hospital March 30, but they formed the only crowd gathered there for the pope.

Before going to the hospital, Pope Francis held his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square and showed no obvious signs of breathing problems.

The Vatican originally said the pope was taken to the hospital for “previously planned tests,” and later stated that he would remain the hospital for a few days. Pope Francis’ scheduled meetings for March 30 and 31 were cancelled “to make room in his agenda for the tests to continue,” an official said.

“Pope Francis is touched by the many messages received and expresses his gratitude for the closeness and prayer,” the Vatican said in its second statement March 29.

“Pope Francis is touched by the many messages received and expresses his gratitude for the closeness and prayer,” the Vatican said in its second statement March 29.

Italian media reported that the pope was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, but the Vatican press office refused to comment on those reports.

The Gemelli hospital, part of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, keeps a suite of rooms reserved for the popes on its 10th floor.

Pope Francis had spent 10 days there in July 2021 after undergoing a three-hour surgery that included a left hemicolectomy, which is the removal of the descending part of the colon, a surgery that can be recommended to treat diverticulitis.

In late January, the pope told the Associated Press that his diverticulitis had returned, but insisted he was in good health for his age.

In an interview with the Reuters news agency in July 2022, he dismissed as “court gossip” rumors that cancer was found during his colon operation.

Material from CNS was used in this report.

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