Lake Albano is seen from a window of the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, in this photo taken Feb. 22. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
The Vatican’s Prefecture of the Pontifical Household
announced today that, in a break from the practice of many of his predecessors,
Pope Francis will not spend the summer months at the papal residence at Castel
Gandolfo. While “he will occasionally travel” to the town 15 miles outside of
announcement stated that Francis will continue to reside at the Vatican’s Domus
Sanctae Marthae, where he has lived since his election in March.
Francis will observe the lighter summer schedule typical of
his predecessors; Wednesday General Audiences will not be held during the month
of July, and the daily papal Masses held in the Domus Sanctae Marthae chapel
will end July 7. Francis will travel to Brazil for World Youth Day from July
Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, didn’t offer an
explanation for why Francis declined to spend his summer at Castel
Gandolfo, although he pointed out that he never went away during the summer
months as archbishop of Buenos Aires.
Catholic News Service has good
information on Castel Gandolfo and its history as the pope’s summer home,
as well as what Francis’ departure from tradition may mean for the town:
Castel Gandolfo has a population of almost 9,000; while its
position on Lake Albano ensures summertime visitors, the loss of pilgrims
coming to see the pope at least on the Sundays of July and August is likely to
have a noticeable economic impact.
summertime papal escape to Castel Gandolfo is a tradition going back to Pope
Urban VIII. While he was still Cardinal Maffeo Barberini, he would spend
summers at the villa. Once he was elected pope in 1623, he decided it was time
for the pontiffs to have a permanent summer residence there. According to
Saverio Petrillo, director of the villa, about half the popes since then have
followed Pope Urban's lead.
the centuries, war, political turmoil, illness and just plain not liking the
setting accounted for some pontiffs renouncing use of the villa, Petrillo wrote.