Sunday, January 15, 2006

"Mystery of Pope's night-time visits to his old haunts"

From the Telegraph:

By Hilary Clarke in Rome
(Filed: 14/01/2006)

The Vatican, citadel of secrets and intrigue, has thrown up another little mystery: what has the Pope been doing on a spate of night-time missions to his old cardinal lodgings?

Over the past few weeks, the German pontiff has been seen sneaking back to his old room outside the Vatican walls three times, La Stampa reported yesterday.

At about 9pm a plain, dark car carrying 78-year-old Pope Benedict and his private secretary, Don Georg Gaenswein, swirls out of a side door of Vatican city. It then doubles round in the back streets before arriving at 1 Piazza Citta Leonina, a hall of residence for senior Church figures and the Pope's home as a cardinal for almost 24 years.

A Vatican security guard is always waiting in front of the apartments in a pedestrian zone tucked behind St Peter's Square. The Pope gets out of the car disguised in the plain black priest's robes he wore when he was the Catholic Church's senior theologian.

Wearing a black hat and with his head down, he opens the wooden door himself, as he did for all those years, and tiptoes inside followed by Don Georg.

"Its is not a question of just dashing in for a few minutes to grab a bag or a book," La Stampa said. "He spends at least a couple of hours there."
Rest of the piece.

Hmmm. The article goes on to speculate that Papa is spending some time in his old quarters because he wants to "get away from it all." On his thread, Domenico Bettinelli hypothesizes that Papa is just visiting his cats, which felines he was not allowed to bring with him when he moved into the Vatican (claws on all those antiques! Eeek!).

Whatever it is, I'm sure the Holy Father has got a good reason. Now that it's out in the papers, however, I wonder if the Italians will be lining the streets at night, trying to get a private audience right in the middle of the road...

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