Pope Bids Adieu to Alps, and Heads to Castel Gandolfo

Ends Vacation on a Note of Thanks

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INTROD, Italy, JULY 18, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II bid farewell to the authorities and residents of Alpine municipality where he was vacationing and then headed south to his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, near Rome.

On Saturday afternoon the Pope also expressed gratitude to the security officials in the municipality of Introd, which includes the village of Les Combes where he spent 12 days of rest. Les Combes, in Valle d’Aosta, lies at the foot of Mont Blanc.

The Holy Father spent the morning saying goodbye to all those who have been near him over these days, such as the Salesians, who live just 50 meters away from the chalet where he stayed, and the police, who ensured his privacy, Vatican Radio reported.

The Pontiff asked to see all the children who were born in Introd over the past year. Nine mothers, with their little ones, spent some minutes with him before his departure.

“Before leaving this enchanting place, where I have been able to spend a period of invigorating rest, I feel the need to express my most sincere gratitude to you, Lord Mayor, to the assembly, and to the whole municipal council of Introd, for the cordial reception given to me and my aides,” John Paul II said when bidding the authorities farewell.

“I cherish in my mind and heart the memory of so many attentions,” the Holy Father added. He thanked all those who had cooperated in making possible his “serene” stay in Les Combes.

“I pray to the Lord, whose omnipotent providence is glimpsed in these Alpine landscapes, that he will continue to protect the community and administrators of Introd,” the Pope said. “May the Virgin of the Great Paradise watch over you from the height of this mountain, dear brothers and sisters. For my part, I assure you of a special remembrance in my prayers.”

Speaking to the members of the security forces, whom he described as “guardian angels,” the Holy Father expressed his thanks for the “efficiency and discretion” with which they looked after him during his stay in Valle d’Aosta, a service that is “not easy.”

John Paul II spent his holiday meeting with people he knew. He also spent time reading, praying and going by car on long outings every day to the Alpine forests, except for one occasion because of bad weather. He also visited two convents in the region.

John Paul II left Les Combes by car at 4 p.m. Saturday for the Aosta airport, where he was bidden farewell by Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi.

The Pope arrived in the Ciampino airport and went directly to Castel Gandolfo, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Rome, where he will carry out his ordinary activities for the rest of the summer.

For the faithful of the suburbicarian Diocese of Albano, which includes Castel Gandolfo, it is a “great joy” to welcome the Holy Father and a “great privilege which enables us to live these summer months with ecclesial intensity,” said the bishop, Agostino Vallini.

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