A Vatican spokesman says Pope John Paul II will remain in the hospital for a few more days, but is expected to be released by March 20, the beginning of Holy Week.

The statement came Thursday one day after the 84-year-old pontiff made two unexpected appearances at his hospital window, blessing a cheering crowd of pilgrims.

The appearances came on the day he usually holds his weekly public audiences at the Vatican, but these were canceled after he was rushed to the hospital for treatment of breathing difficulties nearly two weeks ago.

The 84 year-old pontiff is at Rome's Gemelli hospital, where he is resting and performing speech and breathing exercises after surgery to insert a tube in his windpipe to ease his breathing troubles.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.