Breaking with another centuries-old tradition established by his predecessors, Pope Francis will remain in Rome during the summer and endure the usually stifling heat of the Eternal City.
The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, announced on Thursday that the pope will not move to the papal villa of Castel Gandolfo, where previous popes usually spent at least part of the summer.
The villa, boasting expansive gardens, a working farm, and a private helipad, was a favorite retreat of Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, who used to spend three months there, from early July to the end of September.
After resigning on February 28, Benedict lived in Castel Gandolfo for about two months before returning to the Vatican to live in a refurbished monastery.
Francis, who as Archbishop of Buenos Aires didn’t take any summer holidays, will continue living in the Domus Santa Marta, the modern Vatican guesthouse where he has set up his headquarters, shunning the Renaissance glory of the papal apartments.
But even if he won’t take any holidays, the Argentine pope will nevertheless pare down his schedule in the coming months.
According to the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, “all private and special audiences” are suspended throughout the summer, while Wednesday’s general audiences in St. Peter’s Square will also be suspended in July.
Francis’ morning masses at the Domus Sancta Marta — which have become a trademark of the Francis’ pontificate with their provocative homilies — will also end early July, though they will most likely restart in September, according to Lombardi.
From July 22-29, Francis will make his first international trip to attend World Youth Day in Brazil.
Alessandro Speciale has been covering the Vatican since 2007 and started writing for Religion News Service in 2011. Born in Rome, he studied literature at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy, and journalism at City University, London. He has appeared as an expert on Vatican affairs on CNN, BBC World and Al Jazeera English. Via RNS.