John Paul II Begins Holiday in Alps

15 Outings Planned in the Mountains

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LES COMBES, Italy, JULY 5, 2004 ( John Paul II arrived in this Alpine village to begin 12 days of vacation.

This is the 10th time the Pope has come on vacation to this small village in the Great Paradise National Park, at the foot of Mont Blanc.

The Holy Father arrived at Aosta airport at midday today and was greeted by Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of Aosta. The weather was fresh, in contrast to Rome’s humid heat.

Greeted by numerous faithful all along the road, the Pope was driven to the wood-and-stone chalet, where he will stay over these days.

His neighbors welcomed the Holy Father, as did the few dozen residents of Les Combes. The children from the surrounding municipality of Introd’s kindergarten recited a poem and gave the Pope a bunch of flowers and a basket of local products.

Salvatore Mazza, correspondent of the Italian newspaper Avvenire, described the chalet where the Pope is staying, some 1,300 meters above sea level, as «charming.»

«It has two floors,» Mazza wrote. «The Pope’s room is on the top floor; he has a small chapel next door where he celebrates Mass in the morning. He uses a very small elevator to go up to his room.»

Mazza stated that 15 outings in the mountains have been planned for the Pope, who will travel by car.

Staying with the Holy Father in the chalet are his secretary Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, and Father Tadeusz Styczen, a former student of Karol Wojtyla when he was a professor at the University of Lublin. Father Styczen has accompanied the Pope on his summer holidays since 1987.

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