Pope Francis leaves hospital, quips 'I am still alive'
A jovial Pope Francis joked with well-wishers on Saturday as he left hospital after a three-night stay for bronchitis, and headed back to the Vatican to prepare for Christianity's most important week.
The 86-year-old pontiff, who was admitted to Rome's Gemelli hospital on Wednesday with breathing difficulties, got out of the car transporting him and smiled and joked with the crowd.
Asked by someone how he felt, he quipped twice with a big smile "I am still alive!"
Francis will now begin preparations for Holy Week and Easter, the most important week in the Christian calendar.
The pontiff felt unwell Wednesday after a general audience in St Peter's Square, but his condition improved after he was given antibiotics.
On Friday, the pope visited the children's cancer ward at the hospital, handing out chocolate Easter eggs and baptising a weeks-old baby boy.
As he left on Saturday, he reached out to bless sick people, and stopped to hug and pray with distraught parents whose young daughter had just died.
The Argentine pope confirmed on Saturday he will preside over Palm Sunday mass in St Peter's Square, the start of a busy week of events leading up to Easter.