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After undergoing surgery to repair a hernia and remove scarring from a previous procedure, Pope Francis was discharged from a Rome hospital where he spent nine days recovering.

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The 86-year-old pontiff was taken from the facility to his vehicle in a wheelchair on Friday as he waived to the crowd, telling them “thanks,” The Associated Press reported.

He then stood to get into the car, but not before he batted reporters’ microphones away from him. He did respond when one asked him how he was feeling, telling the reporter, “Still alive.”

Surgeon Dr. Sergio Alfieri said, “The pope is well. He’s better than before.”

On the way back to the Vatican, the pope prayed for 10 minutes before an icon of the Virgin Mary at St. Mary Major Basilica, a frequent stop for him after he travels abroad and after hospital stays, Reuters reported.

He also stopped at a convent near the Vatican to meet nuns and then shook the hands of and thanked the police officers who were part of his motorcade, the AP reported.

The surgery was scheduled for June so Francis would be well enough to travel to Portugal in August and then to Mongolia. All of his audiences were canceled through June 18. He is expected to resume meeting this week with world leaders, including the presidents of Cuba and Brazil, but the meetings haven’t been officially announced, the AP reported.

The pope will not hold his general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday “to safeguard his post-operative recovery,” Reuters reported.

He will also make his traditional appearance from the Apostolic window over the square at noon on Sunday.

Francis typically takes the month of July off. The only public appearances during that month are his Sunday blessings, Reuters reported.