By Devin Watkins
He passed many a summer evening in the quiet and relative cool of the gardens behind the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo during his time on the Chair of Peter.
On Thursday evening, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI relived those peaceful moments with a quick trip to the Alban Hills outside Rome.
Prayerful evening stroll and supper
According to the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, the Pope emeritus stopped off first at the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo to pray the Rosary while strolling through its spacious gardens.
Benedict XVI spent most of his summers as Pope in the papal residence there, enjoying the area’s slightly cooler temperatures compared to the sweltering heat in central Rome.
He would usually stay for the months of July and August, holding the Sunday Angelus prayer in the square in front of the palace.
After his Thursday evening walk, the Pope emeritus stopped off at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sandstone in nearby Rocca di Papa.
Then he had dinner at with Bishop Raffaello Martinelli at the bishop’s residence in Frascati.
It was precisely Bishop Martinelli who had invited the Pope emeritus for supper.
Msgr. Raffaello Torelli, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Frascati, was also present for the relaxing evening. He told Vatican Radio that the Pope emeritus’ visit left “a wonderfully serene impression”.
Benedict, he said, “is a man who lives constantly in the presence of God, a saintly man who transmits that sense of God in a manner beyond his physical appearance. He does so with his eyes and his smile.”
Pope emeritus Benedict XVI returned later on Thursday evening to his residence at the Mater Ecclesia Monastery in the Vatican Gardens.