Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the Italian bishops' conference, was critically ill with COVID-19 earlier this month. He is continuing to recover after testing negative last week.
Bassetti, the archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve, spent 11 days in intensive care in a hospital in Perugia, before being transferred to Rome's Gemelli Hospital to continue his convalescence.
"In these days that have seen me go through the suffering of the contagion from COVID-19, I have been able to experience the humanity, the competence, the care put in place every day, with tireless concern, by all the personnel," Bassetti said in a message to his diocese Nov. 19.
"They will be in my prayers. I also carry with me in memory and in prayer all the patients who are still in the moment of trial. I leave you with an exhortation of comfort: let us remain united in the hope and love of God, the Lord never abandons us and, in suffering, he holds us in His arms."
Italy is currently experiencing a second wave of the virus, with more than 795,000 positive cases, according to the Italian health ministry. Almost 55,000 people have died from the virus in the country since February.
New containment measures were introduced at the beginning of the month, including regional lockdowns and restrictions such as curfews, shop closures, and no dining-in at restaurants and bars after 6 p.m.