The Holy Father retired on Wednesday afternoon to his residence at Castel Gandolfo where he will be spending the greater part of the next few months. He asked for prayers as he retires for a time of rest, work, study and writing.
Today, Pope Benedict broke with the tradition of his first five summers as Pope, which entailed heading to the mountains in the north of Italy. This year he will stay in the papal villa just minutes from Rome by helicopter.
The director of the Pontifical Villas, Saverio Petrillo, told Vatican Radio on Tuesday that there was great anticipation surrounding the Pope's arrival and that staff there has been working hard, but with "joy and enthusiasm," to prepare for the occasion.
Petrillo explained that Castel Gandolfo has been used for the last 400 years as the "stable See" for Popes in summer. He added also that the Holy Father took to the villa—from which one can observe Rome and the Mediterranean on one side and a lake and surrounding hills on the other—immediately upon arriving there for his first visit in May of 2005.
According to a report from Marco Ansaldo in La Repubblica, the Pope's days will begin with 7:30 a.m. Mass and then continue with time divided between study, meditation, prayer, music and writing.
Ansaldo said that the Pope has a twofold "ambitious objective" this summer: "beginning a new book on the Gospels of the infancy of Jesus and giving form to the first draft of his new encyclical, the fourth of his Pontificate."
The encyclical, he reported, will likely be on "Faith."
Looking forward to his time at the hilltop retreat, the Holy Father asked during the Polish greeting after the catechesis at Wednesday morning's general audience for "prayers in the days of my sojourn at Castel Gandolfo."