.- In a symbolic gesture, the Holy Father went to the mountains to pray on the Feast of the Transfiguration. During the day trip away from his summer residence he visited a number of places, taking the time also to drop in on some old friends.
There were no public events on Pope Benedict's unannounced Aug. 6 tour, although, as Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio, despite its private nature he was able to greet some surely surprised people in the course of the day.
The Pope left the bounds of Castel Gandolfo in the morning to pay a visit to the "Madonna dei Bisognosi" Sanctuary for the Feast of the Transfiguration, according to the Holy See's Press Office.
During the Lord's Transfiguration, as recounted in the synoptic gospels, Jesus led Peter, James and John to a high mountain where he changed in appearance before them and was surrounded by a glorious light.
Marking this feast also in a mountain setting, the Pope prayed with those who accompanied him in the Marian sanctuary located in Italy's Abruzzo region at an altitude of over 3,000 ft.
Following the stop at the sanctuary, the Holy Father went to a religious community in the nearby town of Carsoli for lunch, joining the president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini who just celebrated his 94th birthday on Aug. 1.
Later, together with Msgr. Georg Ganswein, his personal secretary, Pope Benedict went to the city of Rocca di Mezzo, where he saw the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who is on vacation there. He also visited St. Leucio's parish where he prayed for those affected by the earthquake that rocked the region in April of last year, also damaging the Church.
After meeting with the parish priest, Rocca di Mezzo's mayor and other city administrators, he returned to Castel Gandolfo.