Pope Francis, 84, pictured praying in church after leaving hospital following successful operation on his stomach

THE Pope has been pictured praying in a church after leaving hospital following a successful intestinal surgery.

Pope Francis, 84, left the hospital this morning and made a stop at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major for a pray, before returning to the Vatican.

According to the Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni, he wanted to "express his gratitude for the success of his surgery and offer a prayer for all the sick, especially those he had met during his stay in hospital."

The Pope was seen leaving the Gemelli University Hospital in Rome this morningten days after he was admitted for a scheduled op on his large intestine.

Last week the Vatican confirmed he is "responding well" in hospital after a operation over the weekend.

Spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement that the pontiff "responded well" to the surgery, which was done under general anaesthesia.

The 84-year-old had been cheerfully greeting the public in the Vatican’s St Peter’s Square three hours before being taken in.

This is the first time the Catholic leader has been admitted to hospital since he was made Pope in 2013.

In an earlier statement, the Vatican said Pope Francis was being treated for "symptomatic Diverticular Stenosis" of the colon.

The disease can lead to bulges in the wall of the large intestine and a narrowing of the colon.

Symptoms typically include bloating, reoccurring abdominal pain, and changes in bowel movements.

A week earlier, he asked his followers to pray for him in a plea that might have hinted at his op.

Pope Francis had told the crowd: “I ask you to pray for the Pope, pray in a special way.”

He is in good health but had part of a lung removed as a young man.

He also suffers from sciatica, in which a nerve affects the lower back and leg, a painful condition that has forced him at times to skip scheduled appearances.

His office did not say when he will have the op in Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic teaching hospital.

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