VATICAN CITY — Before heading out for his two-week stay at the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo this summer, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI received a visit from Pope Francis, who wished him a pleasant stay.
Francis popped by Benedict’s residence at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery around 10am this morning to greet the retired pope before he left today. The meeting lasted half an hour.
Benedict will remain at the papal residence in the small Italian city for two weeks and is expected to return July 14, according to a June 30 communiqué from the Vatican.
The communiqué also noted that Pope Francis’ public audiences, including the weekly general audience, will be suspended for the month of July, with the exception of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal meeting in St. Peter’s Square on July 3.
General audiences will resume in August and will be held in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. Francis’ morning Masses will also be suspended for July-August and will resume in September.
Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi revealed Benedict’s travel plans to journalists June 15, explaining that Pope Francis “invited Benedict XVI to spend some time in Castel Gandolfo in the month of July, and Benedict accepted.”
Pope Francis is not expected to join his predecessor this summer, according to Father Lombardi.
Castel Gandolfo, which lies about 15 miles southeast of Rome, has not been officially used as a papal residence since Benedict XVI — who is now addressed as “Father Benedict” — spent just over two months there following his Feb. 28, 2013, resignation from the See of Peter. He currently lives in the monastery in the Vatican Gardens.
In his first two summers as pope, Francis has chosen to remain at the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence, where he resides the rest of the year.
In addition to his time in Castel Gandolfo, Benedict XVI also has two public events on his summer schedule.
While in Castel Gandolfo July 3, Benedict XVI is set to receive an honorary doctorate from the Krakow, Poland-based Pontifical University of John Paul II and its music academy.
The honor specifically recognizes Benedict’s “great respect for musical tradition of the Church” and “special concern for the noble beauty of sacred music and its proper place in the celebration of the sacred liturgical rites of the Church,” according to a press release from the university.
Polish cardinal and former secretary to St. John Paul II Stanislaw Dziwisz will be present to confer the honor.
Back at the Vatican, Benedict XVI at the end of August will also take part in the inauguration of the “Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Roman Library” at the Pontifical Teutonic College Aug. 30.
The Ratzinger Foundation confirmed to CNA that he will first celebrate Mass at the college for this year’s meeting of his former theology students called the Schulerkreis. Following Mass, he will take part in an inauguration ceremony at the library.
The library section dedicated to his life and thought is currently in the process of being catalogued. It includes books by or about him and his studies, many donated by Benedict XVI himself.