INTROD, Italy, JULY 11, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Nursery-school children turned out to greet Benedict XVI as he arrived at the Alpine village of Les Comes to begin his first vacation as Pope.
“The Pope is punctual,” said Mayor Osvaldo Naudin when he saw the Holy Father’s car, which arrived early this afternoon from the Aosta airport with the papal secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein.
As they got out of the car, they were greeted by the children, who said: “Welcome among us. We are the children of the school. We hope you will be able to rest in the peace and silence of our mountains.”
“You spoke very well, thank you, thank you,” replied the Pope, who bent down to kiss each one of them.
In addition to the children, some 500 people, mostly Les Combes residents, accompanied by Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of Aosta, greeted the Pontiff at the entrance of the chalet where he will stay.
Some gave him flowers and shook his hand. The Holy Father blessed them, while repeating, “Thank you, thank you.”
“I am happy to be in Val d’Aosta,” the Pope said, referring to the region. “Thank you for welcoming me so, with affection.”
Work and rest
According to Vatican sources, the Pope will likely spend his vacation in prayer and rest, but he will also work, especially in the preparation of documents and addresses.
His only public appearances during his vacation will be to pray the midday Angelus on the Sundays of July 17 and 24. He will recite the Marian prayer from the chalet in Les Combes. His vacation is scheduled to end July 28.
After his holiday, Benedict XVI will go to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Rome.