Pope makes first visit to Castelgandolfo

 On Ascension Day, the Holy Father Benedict XVI travelled by helicopter to Castelgandolfo, south of Rome, on his first visit to the pontifical villas where Popes traditionally spend the summer months. He was accompanied by Archbishops Leonardo Sandri and James Harvey, respectively substitute of the Secretariat of State and prefect of the Pontifical Household. On his arrival at Castelgandolfo, the Pope was received by Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, the diocese in which Castelgandolfo is located, Saverio Petrillo, director of the pontifical villas, and by Maurizio Colacchi, mayor of the town. After meeting a group of representatives from the local religious communities - Salesians of the local parish, Jesuits of the Specola (the Vatican Observatory at Castelgandolfo), and Filippini Religious Teachers - the Pope greeted the people who work in the pontifical villas and then visited the Apostolic Palace. At 5pm he appeared on the central balcony to greet the people gathered in the square below. He said: "I have come today to meet you for the first time, dear friends of Castelgandolfo. Thank you for your presence and for your cordiality. On this visit I wish to make contact with the apostolic palace and the pontifical villas where, God willing, it is my intention to spend the summer months, just as my venerated predecessors did. This is therefore the first of many appointments that I hope to have with you in this beautiful town of yours." Benedict XVI then greeted Cardinal Angelo Sodano and the religious and civil authorities present, extending his greetings and "cordial wishes for serenity and peace" to all residents of both Castelgandolfo, "which always welcomes tourists and pilgrims," and of the surrounding hill towns. Source: VIS

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