ROME ( Associated Press) – Pope Francis has designated a Vatican nurse whom he says saved his life as a “personal health assistant.”
The Vatican announced the appointment of Massimiliano Strappetti in a brief statement on Thursday. Strappetti, the nursing coordinator for the Vatican Health Department, accompanied Francis on a trip to Canada last month.
Francisco, 85, admitted that Strepetti had correctly diagnosed an intestinal problem for which he was hospitalized for 10 days in July 2021. At that point, 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his narrowed colon had been removed.
“A nurse saved my life, a man with a lot of experience,” Francis told COPE Radio of the Spanish Episcopate in the months following the operation.
Francisco said Strappetti’s intervention was the second time a male nurse saved his life. First, a nurse in his native Argentina decided to double the amount of medication prescribed to then-seminarian Jorge Mario Bergoglio after he operated for a lung infection in 1957.
Francisco’s personal physician is Dr. Roberto Bernabei, an internist and specialist in geriatrics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome.
The pontiff has suffered several health problems over the past year, especially in the ligaments of his right knee, which has reduced his mobility. After months of magnetic and laser treatments, Francisco is able to walk short distances with a cane or walker, although he also uses a wheelchair.
Strappetti pushed a wheelchair during Wednesday’s general audience. He coordinates the small Vatican Health System hospital, which provides basic care to employees and their families.
Strapatie and a doctor accompanied Francis during the “Atoning Pilgrimage” to Canada to atone for the role of the Catholic Church in residential schools for indigenous children.