Pope begins summer holiday in the Italian Alps
11 July 2005, AOSTA, ITALY - Pope Benedict XVI arrived in the Italian Alps for a well-deserved holiday on Monday, nearly three months after his election as the new head of the Roman Catholic Church.
11 July 2005
AOSTA, ITALY - Pope Benedict XVI arrived in the Italian Alps for a well-deserved holiday on Monday, nearly three months after his election as the new head of the Roman Catholic Church.
"I am happy to be here. We need a holiday," the 78-year-old pontiff said after being greeted by local officials and a group of kindergarten children.
German-born Joseph Ratzinger was expected to enjoy 18 days in the village of a Les Combes di Introd, in the northern Italian region of Aosta. Church sources said he will be reading, writing and taking leisurely walks in the woods.
The pope was staying in the same chalet that had been used for years by his predecessor, John Paul II, a keen hiker in his youth.
Benedict was accompanied by a small group of aides and friends, among them his brother Georg, who is also a priest.
More than 200 police officers were being deployed in the area to protect him during his stay, state television RAI reported.
According to Il Messaggero, a Rome-based daily, Benedict will be taking advantage of the quietness of the mountains to start work on his first encyclical - a letter addressed to bishops generally concerned with matters of the Church.
Elected pope on April 19, Benedict will also be expected to mull some changes within the Roman Curia, the Church's central administration.
A distinguished theologian, Ratzinger was expected to spend most of his time studying inside the wood-and-stone chalet. Il Messaggero reports that he has had three suitcases full of books sent to the chalet prior to his arrival.
Benedict was expected to make only a few appearances in public during his stay in Aosta, namely during the Sunday Angelus prayers, on July 17 and 24.
The pope was scheduled to head to his country residence of Castel Gandolfo on July 28 and spend almost the rest of the summer in the lakeside town south of Rome.
On August 18, he is due to travel to his native Germany to attend World Youth Day celebrations in Cologne.
Subject: German news