Pope Benedict leaves Vatican for summer residence

Vatican City, Jul 3, 2012 / 10:15 am (CNA).- On July 3, Pope Benedict left the Vatican for his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, located outside of Rome.

According to the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, private and special audiences will be suspended over the summer months. The Pope's Wednesday general audience – also deferred during the month of July – will resume at Castel Gandolfo on Aug. 1.

“On Sundays and Solemnities during this period, the Pope will pray the Angelus from the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo,” the prefecture said in a statement Monday.  

The small hilltop town of Castel Gandolfo sits about 15 miles to the south-east of Rome where it overlooks Lake Albano. It has been a papal residence since the reign of Pope Urban VIII in the mid-17th century. Being only 45 minutes by train from Rome, it is also a popular destination for pilgrims.

Pope Benedict’s Castel Gandolfo schedule for the next month has been keep deliberately light. On Wednesday July 11, the Feast of St. Benedict, he will play host to the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim.

The orchestra, which brings together both Palestinians and Israeli musicians, will perform a works by German composer Ludwig van Beethoven.

Meanwhile on Sunday July 15, the Pope will travel to the nearby Frascati to celebrate an outdoor Mass in the town’s Piazza San Pietro.

One of Rome’s seven “suburbicarian” dioceses, Frascati’s titular bishops is usually among the highest-ranking cardinals in the Roman Curia. The present incumbent, for example, is the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Pope Benedict will return from Castel Gandolfo to Rome in September.

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