.- Sunday morning, just after Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, deputy Vatican Secretary of State read a statement from the Holy Father, John Paul II himself made a surprise appearance to greet faithful gathered below his Rome hospital room.
In what were reported as “very clear gestures”, the Pope made the sign of the cross, in blessing over the crowd who responded with loud cheers of “John Paul II, we love you!”
The Holy Father was forced to miss his Sunday Angelus blessing for the first time in his 26-year pontificate, but Archbishop Sandri read a statement from the Pope to those gathered at St. Peter’s Basilica.
In it, the Pope said, "I thank you with affection and feel you all spiritually near. I think of you gathered in St. Peter's Square, alone and in groups that have come, and to all those from every part of the world who are interested in me. I ask you to continue to accompany me, above all with your prayers."
He added his motto of “Totus Tuus”, entrusting himself to the care of Mary.
Sandri led an estimated 5,000 faithful in the Angelus prayer in the Pope’s place, and said that, “the Holy Father is not with us, but he is following us from Gemelli.”
The Pope underwent a successful tracheotomy surgery on Thursday and is recovering well, according to the Vatican. Doctors have advised him not to speak while a breathing tube is still being used to assist the Holy Father.