Pope Francis named a Vatican nurse who he said had "saved my life" to become his personal healthcare aide Thursday, a new role in response to his recent health problems.
"The Holy Father has nominated Massimiliano Strappetti, nurse coordinator of the Directorate of Health and Hygiene, as his personal healthcare assistant," the Vatican said in a short statement.
The 85-year-old pope is always attended by healthcare staff, both in the Vatican and his overseas trips, but this is a new position linked to his recent health problems, a Vatican source told AFP.
The Argentine pontiff suffers from knee pain that has forced him to cancel numerous events, and admitted last week after a trip to Canada that he must slow down or even start thinking about retiring.
Strappetti was widely identified as the Vatican hospital nurse hailed by the pope last year for persuading him to undergo surgery for an inflammation in the intestine.
"He saved my life!" the pope told Spanish radio Cope following his July operation, adding that the nurse had been there for three decades and was a "man with a lot of experience".
Since early May, the pope has used a wheelchair to move around, or sometimes walks with a cane.
He takes painkillers for his knee pain and also undergoes physiotherapy, according to the Vatican.
However, last week Francis ruled out having surgery, saying he was still suffering after-effects of the anaesthetic administered during last year's operation.
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