Pope speaks for first time since surgery; returns to Vatican

.- Shortly before returning to the Vatican Sunday, Pope John Paul II spoke publicly for the first time since his tracheotomy surgery nearly two and a half weeks ago.

The Holy Father appeared at the window of his room at Rome’s Gemelli hospital for the midday Angelus prayer where he greeted and blessed faithful gathered below.

He left the Gemelli just before 6:30 p.m., traveling to the Vatican in a silver van, where he was greeted by small crowds lining St. Peter's Square and surrounding streets.

Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls noted in a statement that the Pope plans to continue his therapy and convalescence in the Vatican.


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