“He is now pleased to return to the Vatican, where he intends to devote himself, as he announced on Feb. 11, to the service of the Church in prayer,” said a Vatican statement released on May 2.
The former Pope was picked up by helicopter at 4:30 p.m. from the grounds of Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence that is located on the edge of a volcanic crater lake, about 15 miles southeast of Rome.
He had been living in the house for two months as a temporary arrangement since he resigned on February 28.
“The former Pope is happy to return to the Vatican because that is the normal situation for him,” said Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Holy See’s press office.
“He will live a normal life, I believe that he can walk and also receive visitors and so on, but that depends on him and how he wants to live his life,” Fr. Lombardi told Vatican Radio.
Benedict XVI arrived at around 4:45 p.m. at the Vatican’s heliport and was greeted by Vatican staff and authorities including Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State.
Also in attendance were Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, the President of the Vatican City State Governorate; Archbishop Angelo Becciu, deputy of the Secretariat of State; Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, who is the State Secretariat’s chief of relations with States; and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, the secretary for the Vatican City State government.
From the heliport, Benedict XVI took a car to his permanent home, the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, where Pope Francis met him.
After their greeting, the two walked into the chapel of the monastery for a short moment of prayer.
The monastery is located within the Vatican gardens and is a 10-minute walk from the Saint Martha residence where Pope Francis lives.
Renovations to the monastery, which began in Nov. 2012, were recently completed and involved replacing old windows, fixing a problem with humidity in the basement and making repairs to a rooftop terrace.
“It is small but has been well prepared,” Fr. Lombardi commented.
“There is, for example, a study room and a small library and there is also a room for when his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, comes to visit,” he said.
The monastery also includes a chapel and a choir room.
Benedict XVI will live alongside five other people, including his secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, and the four Memores Domini who lived with him at the Pontifical Household throughout his pontificate.
The Memores Domini are members of a lay association whose members practice obedience, poverty and chastity, and live in a climate of silence and common prayer.
As for the former pontiff’s health, Fr. Lombardi said he is healthy and there is no reason for any “special concern.”
“He is not a young man, he is old and strength slowly goes backwards, but there is no specific illness,” said the Vatican spokesman.
Benedict XVI has returned to the Vatican after moving to the papal summer household outside of Rome to not interfere with the papal election.
Pope Benedict, Pope Francis