CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 11, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II will spend his summer here, working, resting, praying, reading — and also finishing an autobiographical work.
On Thursday, the Pope came to the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Rome, where he will stay until Sept. 11, when plans call for him to travel to Slovakia on a pastoral visit. The Vatican has not yet confirmed that visit, however.
For the rest of this summer, the Pope will hold the Wednesday general audience, and pray the Angelus on Sunday with the faithful in the courtyard of his residence.
He also will hold meetings with young people. On July 19, he will receive 1,000 youths representing European university students, and on Aug. 9 he will meet with 1,000 participants in the initiative Youths Toward Assisi.
John Paul II wants to take advantage of this summer to finish his meditation-testimony on his experience as a bishop, in time for the silver anniversary of his election as Pope.
He also is writing an apostolic exhortation on the figure of the bishop, as a conclusion to the 2001 synod that focused on the topic “The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World.”
Since 1626, the residence at Castel Gandolfo has welcomed popes escaping the intense summer heat of Rome. Situated 380 meters (1,250 feet) above sea level, it enjoys fresh air and has 55 hectares (135 acres) of vegetation.