Pope Francis leaves hospital following check-up

Pope Francis has left Rome's Gemelli hospital following a check-up.

The 86-year-old had visited the hospital for tests following at least two recent bouts of illness.

He spent several days at the same hospital at the end of March following treatment for a respiratory infection, and last month had to skip audiences due to a fever.

Witnesses at the Vatican's Perugino gate, one of the main entrances to the city state, said Pope Francis returned to the Vatican a short while after he was seen leaving, and greeted guards as he usually does.

The Vatican has so far not commented on the exact reason for his visit on Tuesday, but local media reports said he had gone to the department of the hospital which specialised in treating elderly patients.

Over the weekend he delivered a noon prayer in St Peter's square in the Vatican.

Francis, who marked his 10th year as pontiff in March, has suffered a number of ailments in recent years - and often uses a wheelchair or a cane to walk because of persistent knee pain.

In July 2021 he had part of his colon removed in an operation aimed at addressing a painful bowel condition called diverticulitis. He said earlier this year that the condition had returned.

He is also missing part of one lung, which he had removed when he was a young man in Argentina.

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Despite his health issues, the pontiff maintains a busy schedule.

On Saturday, the Vatican announced plans for Francis to visit Mongolia in late August and early September.

On his visit to the country, he is due to visit a tiny Christian community as part of his aim to visit Catholics on the periphery of the Church's reach.

Statistics provided by the non-profit, Aid To The Church In Need, show that Mongolia is just 2% Christian.

Before that trip he is due to visit Portugal in early August where he will attend the World Youth Day in Lisbon and visit the Shrine of Fatima.