Nature, Music and Reading Fill Papal Vacation

Locals Happy to Welcome Back the Pope

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INTROD, Italy, JULY 15, 2009 ( Benedict XVI is spending his days in the Italian Alps with music and books, though he is also maintaining himself informed of world events, according to L’Osservatore Romano.

The Pope arrived Monday to Les Combes in the municipality of Introd, nestled in the Aosta Valley of northern Italy. He will remain at his vacation chalet run by the Salesians until July 29.

Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of Aosta affirmed that the locals are excited to have the Holy Father among them again; he last vacationed in that spot in 2006. The prelate assured that they are anticipating his public praying of the midday Angelus on July 26.

«His simple presence among us makes us very happy,» the bishop said, even though there is little interaction. «We have not prepared anything special or spectacular. We want to respect his rest; we’ll gather with him if and when he wants.»

The region affords the Holy Father ample time to soak in nature. Bishop Anfossi noted how the Pope «carries the ecological question in his heart.» And the chalet was furnished with a piano in the days when Pope John Paul II vacationed there. It also counts on a «very complete» library.

Benedict XVI is scheduled to pray the Angelus publicly in Romano Canavese (where his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, was born) and in Les Combes. He will also meet with priests, consecrated persons and laypeople of the Aosta Diocese.

Given that the Holy Father is staying in a Salesian residence, that congregation’s general-superior, Father Pascual Chávez, was on hand to welcome him.

«I am very happy to see you,» the Mexican priest assured the Pontiff on Monday. Father Chávez introduced him to the Salesian community and affirmed, «We are happy that you have returned to Les Combes. You are in your home. We will accompany you with prayer.»

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