The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, is recovering well from a hernia operation, Holy See spokesperson Matteo Bruni said on Thursday.
The pope underwent three hours of open abdominal surgery under general anesthesia at Rome's Gemelli Hospital on Wednesday. He is currently on a liquid diet and is expected to stay at the hospital for at least five days. However, his age and recent bouts of illness may lengthen the recovery time, the Vatican said.
The Vatican has canceled all planned audiences until June 18 as a precaution.
"Pope Francis passed a quiet night and managed to have a lengthy rest," the Vatican said. "He is in a generally good condition, is alert and is breathing without assistance."
Lead medic Sergio Alfieri on Wednesday said the pope was "awake, alert and was joking again" after the procedure. He tolerated two anesthetics, the doctor said, quelling concerns that there could be difficulties since Francis did not take well to anesthetics two years ago for his intestinal surgery.
Pope Francis is being informed about all his well-wishers meanwhile, Bruni said. The pontiff thanked them but asked for further prayers for his health.
The spiritual leader even spoke to a woman on the phone, whose infant he had baptized at the end of March during a previous stay at the hospital for pneumonia.
Prayer services at the Vatican will continue as planned. An event for peace scheduled for Saturday at St. Peter's Square will take place without the pope. The traditional Angelus prayer is also scheduled for Sunday. The pope typically conducts this prayer at noon every Sunday with the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.
In 2021, after an operation on his intestine for diverticulitis, the pope conducted this prayer from the balcony of the Gemelli Hospital.
The leader of the 1.3 billion Catholics in the world has suffered increasing health issues over the past year. Francis' predecessor — Benedict XVI, who died in December — stepped down in 2013 due to failing health.