On July 12 a book entitled "John Paul II Among the Mountains," by Nadia Millery Ognibene and Raffaella Poletti, was presented by Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of Aosta and Osvaldo Naudin, the mayor of Introd, in the Maison Bruil of Introd, near Les Combes in Valle d'Aosta where the Holy Father is vacationing.
The recently renovated Maison Bruil is an extensive rural complex dating to the 17th century which has undergone enlargements and improvements since it was first built. The various farm structures that were built around a courtyard were linked by a vast roof. Today, some of the buildings are used for presentations, for art and photo exhibits and other events.
The 120-page book contains photos from John Paul's various mountain sojourns in Italy in his years as Pope, as well as all the texts in which he has spoken of the value and beauty of mountains, of ecology and conservation. The book speaks of the Pope's "love for mountains and the value they have had in his life as a man and as Pope, a kind of 'mountain fever' which has never left him."
The authors write that, in the life of Karol Wojtyla, "mountains assume different values: a stimulus for his reflections, an aid in spreading the Word of God and praises for the beauty of creation." They add that "never, as in this pontificate, has the world seen a Pope-man …who has never hidden his difficulties, feelings or needs."
The book, which opens with the Pope's Angelus remarks at Mont Chetif in Valle d'Aosta on the occasion of his pastoral visit to the city and diocese of Aosta in 1986, shows how John Paul II "has, in a Christian way, looked at the value of vacations as a real need in life, not a superfluous one, and as an important time of the year for the body and spirit to rest."
Mountains were part of the Pope's youth and life in his native Poland, say the writers. "He loves the world that is genuine and rich in traditions, the world found in mountain localities because these remind him of his native land and the places of his childhood. ... He loves this milieu because he feels part of it."
The volume concludes with the texts of all the Angelus reflections the Pope has made while on vacation in the mountains of northern Italy.