On Wednesday Pope Benedict XVI visited and blessed the new headquarters of the Vatican Observatory, which moved from the Pontifical Palace in June. The observatory had been housed since in the palace since 1935, and is now located in an old monastery on the grounds of the Pontifical Villas.
During his hour-long visit to the building, the Holy Father viewed the large collection of meteorites housed by the Observatory and held a rock from Mars in his hands.
The Pope also peered through a microscope at a meteorite that was found near Bavaria and also browsed through some works by Copernicus, Kepler and Newton.
After praying in the chapel, the Holy Father signed a commemorative document that will be placed next to one that contains the names of his predecessors.
Pope Benedict XVI was received at the Observatory by Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Vatican Governorate, which oversees the facility, and by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the general secretary. Jesuit Superior Father Adolfo Nicolas Pachon and the director of the Observatory, Father Jose Gabriel Funes, were also present.