The Holy See Press Office announced Pope Francis appointed a first-ever papal “personal health care assistant.”
Pope Francis chose Massimiliano Strappetti, a nurse who has worked in the Vatican since 2002. Last summer, he advised Pope Francis to undergo tests for a flare-up of diverticulitis and have an operation to keep it from getting worse.
Pope Francis credits Strappetti with saving his life.
“He saved my life! He told me: ‘You have to have surgery.’ There were other opinions: ‘Better with antibiotics…’ but the nurse explained it to me very well.
He is a nurse from here, from our health service, from the Vatican hospital. He has been here for thirty years, a very experienced man. It is the second time in my life that a nurse has saved my life.”
Strappetti accompanied Pope Francis on his recent trip to Canada, seen during some of his public appearances helping him use a wheelchair.
He’ll work with Pope Francis’ personal physician Dr. Roberto Bernabei, professor of internal medicine and geriatrics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome.
Pope Francis’ new personal nurse comes after he told journalists he may need to slow down a bit with travel or otherwise thinking about resigning.
“I don’t think I can move at the same pace of travel as before. I think that at my age and with this limitation I have to cut back a little bit to be able to serve the Church or on the contrary think about the possibility of stepping aside.”
Since early May, he’s been using a wheelchair and cane to get around.
According to the Vatican, he takes painkillers for the knee pain and does physical therapy too.