Benedict XVI to Depart for the Italian Alps

To Stay in Chalet Used by John Paul II

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 10, 2005 ( Benedict XVI bade farewell to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square during his last Angelus address before departing for a vacation in the Italian Alps.

The Pope said that he will “be a guest in the house that many times received John Paul II.”

He added: “I thank all those who will accompany me with their prayer, and to you I say with affection: ‘See you soon!'”

The Holy Father will depart on Monday and stay in the Val d’Aosta, in the small village of Les Combes. The chalet is part of a property used by the Salesians.

The chalet, smaller than many others in the area, was used by John Paul II for the first time in July 2000.

The Pope’s room and office are on the first floor. There are also rooms for his personal secretary and others who will be with him for the holidays, including his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger.

Benedict XVI plans to remain in the Alps until July 28. While there, he is expected to spend time in prayer, reading, conversation and outings.

Discretion in order

From the chalet’s large dining room window, the Pope will be able to look out on Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak. The chalet itself is 1,700 meters (5,600 feet) above sea level.

Benedict XVI will also be able to walk in the well-tended garden around the chalet and sit in one of John Paul II’s favorite places — a small piazza dedicated to Mary, in which the Salesians have placed a wooden statue of the Blessed Virgin.

In addition, there is a path among the trees of the forest that surrounds the villa, with the Stations of the Cross.

Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of the Aosta Diocese told Vatican Radio: “We would like him to choose the way he prefers to spend the holidays, the style of his vacations.”

“Therefore, discretion is in order, so that he will have the possibility to concentrate, write, read, walk as he likes and, perhaps — who knows? — write down something that for him is precious to transmit,” he said.

Compared to John Paul II, “it seems he wants to give it a character of greater reserve and privacy. We are disposed to respect this,” said the bishop.

Benedict XVI’s only scheduled public appointments are encounters with pilgrims and local residents for the Sunday midday Angelus on July 17 and 24.

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