Pope Emeritus Takes Up Permanent Residence in the Vatican

Benedict XVI will now spend his remaining days in prayer at the newly renovated monastery of Mater Ecclesiae.

Helicopter carrying Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI flies above the Vatican May 2.
Helicopter carrying Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI flies above the Vatican May 2. (photo: Edward Pentin)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI returned to the Vatican this afternoon to take up permanent residence in a renovated monastery.

Benedict XVI’s helicopter arrived from the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo shortly after 4:45pm local time. He was accompanied by Archbishop Georg Gänswein, prefect of the pontifical household.

Among those greeting Benedict XVI at the heliport were Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals; Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state; and Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the governatorate of Vatican city state.

The pope emeritus was then transferred to his new residence, the renovated monastery Mater Ecclesiae, where he was welcomed by Pope Francis. The Vatican said the Pope welcomed Benedict with “great and fraternal cordiality,” after which the two then entered the monastery chapel, where they spent “a short time in prayer.”

After standing down from the papacy Feb. 28, Benedict XVI spent 62 days at Castel Gandolfo while the monastery was being refitted.

The Vatican said the pope emeritus was pleased to return to the Vatican, where he “intends to devote himself to the service of the Church, above all through prayer,” as he said he would when he announced his resignation on Feb. 11.

The Vatican added that, as expected, Benedict XVI and Archbishop Gänswein will live in the monastery together with the Memores Domini — four consecrated women who have “already been part of the pontifical family in recent years.”

Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.