On Sunday, January 10, the Vatican confirmed that Dr. Fabrizio Soccorsi, personal physician of Pope Francis, has died of complications from a COVID-19 infection. No reports were made as to when was his last contact with the Pope.
Soccorsi, 78, was reportedly undergoing treatment for an oncological disease when he was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on December 26. Two weeks later, on January 9, he died of COVID-19 complications.
Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the first to report about the doctor’s death, says Soccorsi has always had a close relationship with Pope Francis. (Read: A reminder from Pope Francis: ‘Pray for doctors in war zones’)
“As Francis’ personal physician, Soccorsi traveled with the pope on his international trips,” the news agency wrote. “During his visit to Fatima, Portugal in May 2017, Pope Francis laid two bunches of white roses before the statue of the Virgin Mary for Soccorsi’s daughter, who was critically ill, and died the following month.”
Doctor of the Pope
Pope Francis appointed Soccorsi as his personal physician back in August 2015. But even before then, Soccorsi has already had close ties with the Vatican— he had been serving as a consultant for the Holy for more than three decades.
Soccorsi, who had numerous specializations in the field of medicine, believed that the most important part of being a doctor is the ability to see things from a holistic perspective. In an exclusive interview with My Pope back in 2017, he also shared how his expertise in hepatology, tropical diseases, gastroenterology, and hematology allowed him to grow his faith as a doctor.
“I learned to see the face of Christ in every suffering human,” he said. “I always tried to help people in the hospital, especially those who lost hope in healing. With the objective to help those in need, I also dedicated myself to apostolates, engaging in them in spite of my commitments in the hospital: It is the Lord who asked me.”
Vaccination in the Vatican
Soccorsi’s death came a day before Pope Francis confirmed that he has already signed up to procure the vaccine against COVID-19. According to the Holy Pontiff, the Vatican is set to start its vaccination efforts within this month. (Read: Vatican to Vaccinate Residents, Employees This Month)
“Next week we will start doing it (vaccination) here, in the Vatican, and I have booked myself in. It must be done,” the Pope said firmly in an interview with Italy’s television channel, Canale 5.
Pope Francis has yet to release a statement regarding the passing of Soccorsi.