Being one of two predominantly-Christian nations in Asia, the Philippines prides itself on the special attention given it by the Roman Catholic Church. The country has been visited by three different popes, the most recent being by Pope Francis in 2015. His visit was especially memorable due to it also being in remembrance of the effects of 2013’s Typhoon Yolanda, for which the Argentinian Pontiff celebrated Mass in Tacloban and met with survivors of the calamity. It is no surprise then that Filipinos joined with the rest of world Christianity in worrying for Pope Francis following his recent hospitalization for surgery, and were relieved when he recovered enough to pray with the public on Sunday.

According to The Manila Bulletin, Pope Francis put the minds of pilgrims waiting outside the Gemelli Hospital in Rome at ease when, this past July 11, he appeared on the balcony of his room at the 10th floor to not only greet the faithful but join them in praying the Angelus at the time. The Pontiff had been admitted at Gemelli Hospital since two Sundays ago, July 4, to undergo colon surgery. Despite a brief scare where the 84-year-old Pope developed a post-operation fever, no abnormalities were detected and he has recovered without further complications.

Following the recitation of the Angelus that Sunday, Pope Francis spoke briefly from the Gemelli Hospital balcony to well-wishers below. “I am glad to be able to keep the Sunday Angelus appointment, even here,” he says. “In these days of being hospitalized, I have experienced how important good health care is, accessible to all, as it is in Italy and in other countries. A healthcare system that assures good service, accessible to everyone…This precious benefit must not be lost. It needs to be kept.” The Pontiff then thanked the Gemelli staff and enjoined the faithful to pray for the sick.

An official statement from the Holy See communications office revealed that Pope Francis was scheduled for surgery last week due to inflammation of the colon. This specific condition, stenotic diverticulitis, is said by the US National Institutes for Health to be common in over half of American adults, and becomes more prevalent with age. It is expected that the Pontiff will be released from the hospital any day this week.

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