2012-07-03 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI left Vatican City State this afternoon for the cooler climbs of his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome. As of Tuesday he is officially ‘on holiday’ in the Alban Hills, where he will spend a period of rest for the month of July. Emer McCarthy reports Listen:
However, while all public audiences are suspended through to the first week of August, the Holy Father’s ‘holiday’ schedule will include private meetings, special concerts and a series of engagements among the towns that populate the Alban Hills, known locally as the Castelli Romani, or Roman Castles.
Divine missionaries and Divan Orchestras
His first stop is the ancient town of Nemi perched above a lake of the same name, which is home to the Divine Word Missionaries’ (SVD) International Ad Gentes Centre in Nemi, on July 9th. This visit with the SVD, who are concluding their General Chapter, has a particular resonance for Benedict XVI. In 1964 the Nemi centre was chosen as the venue for the deliberations of the “editorial committee” which prepared the draft of Vatican II’s decree on the “Missionary Activity of the Church,” Ad Gentes.
The committee, formed by four bishops and then SVD superior general Fr. Johannes Schütte, was assisted by five periti, among whom was then Fr. Joseph Ratzinger.
Summertime concerts are also fast becoming a familiar fixture for the Pope’s vacation period in Castel Gandolfo, given his love for classical music. But this summer he will be entertained by a most particular group of young musicians, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra who will perform Beethoven’s 5th symphony in C minor. The youth orchestra is based in Sevilla, Spain, but it comprises musicians from countries in the Middle East, of Egyptian, Iranian, Israeli, Jordanian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian and Spanish background.
The Argentine-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim and the late Palestinian-American academic Edward Said founded the orchestra in 1999, and named the ensemble after an anthology of poems by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The aim of the West-Eastern Divan is to promote understanding between Israelis and Palestinians.
On Sunday July 15th Pope Benedict will also make a pastoral visit to the nearby diocese of Frascati, to celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Cathedral.
The Holy Father will remain in Castel Gandolfo into September, returning to the Vatican each Wednesday for his weekly appointment with pilgrims, when the General Audiences resume from the first week of August. Pope Benedict will however continue to pray the Angelus with faithful every Sunday from the courtyard of his Summer Residence.