Pope Francis on the morning of June 7, 2023 shortly before heading to the hospital for abdominal surgery greets pilgrims at his general audience in St. Peter’s Square. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Jun 7, 2023 / 10:15 am (CNA).

Pope Francis’ audiences have been canceled until June 18, an Italian Catholic diocese said Wednesday, citing the Prefecture of the Papal Household.

The communications office of the Diocese of Teramo-Atri sent a press release June 7 expressing the bishop’s closeness to Francis after the pope was hospitalized to undergo abdominal surgery Wednesday afternoon.

According to a tweet posted by Vatican News, Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni also told journalists the pope’s audiences were suspended until June 18 “as a precautionary measure.”

Catholics of the Diocese of Teramo-Atri, which is in central Italy’s Abruzzo region, were scheduled to meet Pope Francis in Rome in St. Peter’s Square on the morning of Saturday, June 17.

Bishop Lorenzo Leuzzi invited Catholics to unite in prayer for Pope Francis’ healing, especially on the solemnity of Corpus Christi, which will be celebrated on Sunday.

The Fratelli Tutti Foundation, which had organized an event with Pope Francis and Nobel laureates to take place in St. Peter’s Square on June 10, has said the gathering will go on as planned, at the pope’s request.

Pope Francis was taken to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital shortly after 11 a.m. on June 7 for a surgery under general anesthesia, the Vatican said.

The hospitalization followed Francis’ participation in the usual Wednesday general audience, at which he venerated a relic of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

According to spokesman Matteo Bruni, Francis on Wednesday is undergoing an operation to repair a hernia through a laparotomy and abdominal wall reconstruction with prosthetic material.

The Vatican said the 86-year-old pope would spend “several days” in the hospital post-surgery.

Pope Francis visited the same hospital Tuesday for less than an hour, the Vatican confirmed June 6, following the publication of Italian media reports.

The pope’s surgery may be to repair a hernia that formed in the scar of the incision following his colon operation in July 2021 for diverticulitis.

Francis recovered in a hospital wing reserved for papal medical emergencies for 11 days following the July 4, 2021, surgery.

It is the same medical suite at Gemelli Hospital where St. John Paul II stayed for treatment at different points in his pontificate.

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