.- Italian journalist Renzo Allegri revealed this week that Pope John Paul II “escaped” incognito from the Vatican on occasion to ski in the Apennines of Abruzzo northeast of Rome. On May 18, the day on which John Paul II would have celebrated his 85th birthday, the region of Abruzzo will rename Gendarme Mountain “Mount John Paul II.”
Allegri said the event has led many local residence to recall the beauty of this solitary mountain “which can be seen very well from a small church dedicated to St. Peter in the town of San Pietro della Ienca di Camarda, where John Paul II, according to local residents, would frequently stop to pray.”
Allegri noted that John Paul II had been informed of the decision to rename the mountain in his honor and that for this reason correspondence between the Vatican and regional authorities took place.
“It is precisely from the contents of the one of these letters from the Vatican that a significant detail unknown until now has been revealed,” Allegri said.
A letter from the Secretariat of State dated March 17, 2005, signed by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, implicitly confirms the Pope’s secret excursions when it says, “Always recalling his numerous excursions to that mountainous area, where he frequently stopped to pray at the Church of St. Peter della Ienca, His Holiness assures he remembers you in his prayers.”
“John Paul II’s visits to the Gran Sasso, therefore, were not ‘few’ but rather ‘numerous’,” said Allegri, who had access to the official document. He obtained confirmation from a local monsignor who asked to remain anonymous: “The Pope would spend entire days in these mountains, sometimes completely alone.”