VATICAN CITY — In light of Pope Francis’ first anniversary as Bishop of Rome, the Vatican has stated that the Holy Father is doing nothing special to celebrate other than to pray, as he is currently in the middle of his Lenten retreat.
“Today the Pope is not doing anything special or different from other days. He is praying,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters in a March 13 statement.
Father Lombardi’s comment came in the wake of numerous phone calls and emails he had received from journalists inquiring about the Holy Father’s plans for the day of his anniversary.
Having left Rome on Sunday afternoon with members of the Curia to spend their annual Lenten retreat in the hillside town of Ariccia, thus breaking from the tradition of holding it at the Vatican, Pope Francis is spending his anniversary in deep reflection and prayer.
During the retreat, the Pope and Curia members begin every day with Mass, breakfast and a meditation, which is followed by lunch and a period of free time, before a second meditation is given at 4pm. After this, they pray vespers, have Eucharistic adoration and eat dinner.
This year’s Lenten retreat has the theme: “The Purification of the Heart.”
On Friday, the Pope and Curia members will conclude their retreat and return from Ariccia to Rome.
No special accommodations have been made for their return trip, as the bus is a regular motor coach and is one of several owned by the Vatican.
In a message tweeted earlier this morning on Pope Francis’ @Pontifex Twitter accounts, the Holy Father asked only one thing on the occasion of his anniversary: “Pray for me.”
The Pope has more than 12 million Twitter followers worldwide, including 5 million in the Spanish language, close to 4 million in English, 1.5 million in Italian, almost 1 million in Portuguese, 248,000 in French, 177, 500 in German and 116,000 in Arabic.