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Chicago archbishop slips on holy water, hurts hip

Chicago Tribune

The archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, was hospitalized with a slight hip fracture Saturday morning after he apparently slipped and fell inside a church while blessing Easter baskets, archdiocese officials said.

George, 70, was at St. Ferdinand Roman Catholic Church to bless baskets of food for Easter meals when he slipped on some holy water that had splashed onto the marble floor, said Colleen Dolan, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.

The cardinal appeared to land squarely on his hips in a seated position, and he grimaced in pain.

But he continued the service, receiving applause after being helped back to the altar.

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After the service, he had trouble walking, so an aide took him to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood.

Though the injury was not serious and did not require surgery, Dolan said, George is to remain hospitalized for a few days of physical therapy and is using a walker so as not to apply pressure to the hip.

“He took a fall . . . in his exuberance with the holy water,” Dolan said.

“He was concerned when it started to hurt more. That is why he wanted to check, and we’re glad he did.”

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Because of the hospitalization, George will say Easter Mass privately in his hospital room, Dolan said. The injury also means the cancellation of a trip to Rome for celebrations marking his 10th anniversary as archbishop of Chicago.

George had planned to leave for the Vatican on Friday.

George, who had polio as a child, wears a brace on his right leg, the same side that was injured in Saturday’s fall.

In July, George was found to have bladder cancer and underwent surgery. Dolan said the accident came just when George seemed to have regained his strength.

“I think his energy level had gotten stronger in the last few weeks. He had reached back to his old stride,” Dolan said.

Doctors conducted a series of tests Saturday; George was scheduled to see an orthopedic physician today.

“He feels fine. He is in very good shape,” Dolan said. “He won’t miss a beat, and he will be back at work.”


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