Pope Francis departed Gemelli Hospital in Rome, Italy, on Friday to a crowd of cheers.
The pontiff returned to the Vatican following abdominal surgery that left him hospitalized for more than a week.
“I’m still alive!” Pope Francis replied to reporters asking how he was doing.
The pope is already scheduled to lead the Angelus prayer on Sunday, a return to his normal routine of public appearances after his stint in recovery.
“The pope is well. He’s better than before,” said his surgeon, Dr. Sergio Alfieri.
Before arriving to Vatican City, Pope Francis stopped to pray at Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major. He made the same stop to pray after his previous hospitalizations.
He also made a brief visit to the religious sisters at the Institute of the Most Holy Child Mary.
Francis, 86, underwent a three-hour operation at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on Wednesday, June 7, to repair a hernia, which doctors said was successful enough that he should have no limitations on his travels and other activities after he recovers.
During the operation, doctors removed adhesions, or internal scarring, on the intestine that had caused a partial blockage.
Pope Francis visited Thursday with children in the Paediatric Oncology and Child Neurosurgery Ward of Gemelli Hospital, the facility in Rome where he has stayed during his recovery.
He also met with medical staff and Vatican officials ahead of his impending release.
The Vatican released photos of his visits with the young cancer patients and expressed the pope’s gratitude for their support and prayers.
“At the end of the visit,” Holy See Press Office director Matteo Bruni said, “the pope went to the Paediatric Oncology and Children’s Neurosurgery ward where the young patients – who have expressed their affection to the pope in recent days through numerous letters, drawings and messages for a speedy recovery – are cared for.”
Despite returning to a semi-regular schedule, the pontiff will not make his Wednesday morning public audience on June 21.