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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 March, 2005, 12:30 GMT
Pope makes surprise appearance
Pope John Paul II at hospital window
The Pope spent two minutes greeting wellwishers
Pope John Paul II has made a brief surprise appearance at his hospital window in Rome, the third since he was taken ill with flu last month.

The 84-year-old pontiff, who underwent throat surgery two weeks ago, clasped his hands together, waved and repeatedly blessed wellwishers.

The Pope should be well enough to leave hospital by 20 March in time for Holy Week - the run-up to Easter.

The Vatican is expected to issue its next update on his health on Thursday.

The Pope normally gives public audiences at the Vatican on Wednesday.

But while spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said earlier that he did not intend to make an appearance, several hundred pilgrims gathered outside the hospital to wish him well.

He spent about two minutes waving and making signs of the cross to the crowd, prompting applause.

"I wanted to see his hands and I saw them - I'm so happy," said newly-wed Darlene Marquez.

Officials say the pontiff has suffered no complications since his tracheotomy surgery on 24 February.

But doctors have told the Pope to restrict the use of his voice to ensure a complete recovery.


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