Pope Francis names nurse who saved his life

Pope Francis named the Vatican on Thursday nurse who he said had “saved my life” to become his personal health assistant, a new role for his papacy.

The appointment comes as the 85-year-old Pope struggles with knee pain that has forced him to cancel numerous events, and after admitting last week after a trip to Canada that he needed to slow down or even start thinking to retire.

“The Holy Father has appointed Massimiliano Strappetti, nurse coordinator of the Directorate of Health and Hygiene, as his personal health assistant,” the Vatican said in a brief statement.

Strappetti was widely identified as the Vatican hospital nurse hailed by the pope in an interview last year for persuading him to undergo surgery for an inflamed bowel.

“I saved my life!” Pope told Spanish radio Cope after his July 4 surgery, adding that the nurse had been there for three decades and was a “man with a lot of experience.”