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Pope Francis blesses a child in the Department of Pediatric Oncology at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome, July 13, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Jul 13, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis on Tuesday met with children on the oncology ward of the Rome hospital where he is recovering after colon surgery.

The Holy See press office said on July 13 that the pope visited the Department of Pediatric Oncology on the 10th floor of Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, where he is currently staying.

/ Vatican News.

The press office distributed photographs of the pope walking through the ward to applause from medical workers, as well as blessing children undergoing treatment.

Pope Francis was hospitalized on July 4 for an operation to relieve severe stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis. The three-hour surgery included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

/ Vatican News.

On July 12, the Vatican confirmed that the 84-year-old pope would remain at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital for “a few more days” before being discharged, “to optimize the medical and rehabilitation therapy.”

While in hospital, the pope has been staying in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies, in the same suite where St. John Paul II stayed for medical treatment at different points in his pontificate.

/ Vatican News.

During his hospitalization, Pope Francis has exchanged affectionate messages with the young patients in the nearby pediatric oncology and children’s neurosurgery wards.

Young cancer patients joined Pope Francis as he led the Sunday Angelus from a balcony on the 10th floor on July 11, in his first public outing since the operation.

/ Vatican News.

“Among the many patients [Pope Francis] has met during these days, he addressed a special thought to those who are bedridden and cannot return home: May they live this time as an opportunity, even if experienced in pain, to open themselves with tenderness to their sick brother or sister in the next bed, with whom they share the same human frailty,” a Vatican spokesman said on July 13.

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