Pilgrims waiting outside the Gemelli hospital got a glimpse of the Pope at noon yesterday as he gave the short final lines of the Angelus blessing from his tenth floor window. He sounded breathless and hoarse. A much larger crowd gathered in St Peter's Square saw the Pope on large television screens. This was the Holy Father's first public appearance since he was taken sick last Tuesday. After the prayers, an aide read a message from the Pope in which he thanked everyone for their prayers and said he was continuing to serve the church from his hospital bed. On Saturday, Italian bishop Vincenzo Paglia said the pontiff was "getting better and he's happy". Earlier Bishop Paglia attended a gathering of around 100 bishops from different denominations who held an ecumenical prayer service in the hospital chapel for the Pope. Further medical updates are expected later today. For the first time, the Pope will probably miss the Ash Wednesday service in St Peter's, marking the start of Lent.
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