Nearing the end of his summer stay at Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father met with local authorities on Monday. Saying farewell to delegates from local institutions, he thanked them for their support, calling them to increased cooperation in the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul.
Pope Benedict XVI announced his plans to return to Rome during last Sunday's Angelus, saying that he would be back at the Vatican on Sept. 30 and saluting locals with a "cordial 'arrivederci'." He met with delegations from Castel Gandolfo's city hall, civil and military authorities, religious communities and staff at the apostolic villa to say a more formal "goodbye" on Monday.
Benedict XVI took the opportunity given by the audience to thank each of these delegations individually as well as the local Church for their work throughout the summer season, especially in providing for him and the many pilgrims that came.
In taking leave, he spoke of the figure of St. Vincent de Paul, whose memory is celebrated in the Church on Monday. Remembering that this "apostle of charity" was declared the universal Patron of Charitable Endeavors by Pope Leo XIII, he said that "(w)ith his incessant apostolic activity, he made the Gospel become ever more a brilliant lighthouse of hope and love for the men of his time, and in particular for the poorest in body and spirit.
"His virtuous example and his intercession raise in our communities and in each of you a renewed commitment to solidarity, so that the efforts of each might cooperate in the edification of the common good."
The Holy Father left the Vatican for the pontifical villa at Castel Gandolfo nearly three months ago, after the general audience on July 7. Since then, he has returned periodically for the Wednesday audiences and even made two trips, one within Italy to Carpineto Romano and the other to the U.K. On Thursday, he will return again to the Vatican to his apostolic palace residence within the Vatican walls.