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Pope Enjoys Last Day of Alpine Vacation

Returns to Castel Gandolfo on Thursday

LES COMBES, Italy, JULY 27, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Italian television offered a rare glimpse of Benedict XVI’s vacation, airing footage of the Pope as he enjoyed his last day in the Italian Alps

The Vatican Television Center broadcasted today images of the Holy Father on a hike in the mountains with his secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, and Alpine guide Albert Cerise, who for ten years guided Pope John Paul II, who vacationed in the same location.

The Pope has been on holiday since July 11 in Les Combes, in the Val d’Aosta.

Looking at one of the peaks of Mont Blanc, Monsignor Gaenswein commented: “Usually the Giant’s Tooth is clearly seen, but today it’s cloudy.”

The Holy Father answers: “In our country, the 3,000-meter mountains always have snow. Here we are further south.”

The Alpine guide points out another peak and explains that “there, an enormous avalanche buried a whole village.”

“Mamma mia!”

The Pope turned around and asked: “A whole village? ‘Mamma mia!'” using a typical Italian expression.

The guide listed the names of the mountains: “Over there, in the background, is the Grand Jourasse, behind it there is a most beautiful lake.”

The Vatican cameras filmed the Pope, his secretary and the guide continuing their walk. Two forest rangers are also seen, with whom the Pope pauses to talk.

Benedict XVI will fly from Aosta to Rome on Thursday afternoon. He will go directly to the papal summer residence Castel Gandolfo from the airport, where he will stay until his trip to Cologne, Germany, on Aug. 18 to attend World Youth Day.

The Holy Father will follow his usual schedule at Castel Gandolfo, including his weekly general audience on Wednesdays, and the Angelus address on Sundays.

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