After a two-week vacation, Benedict XVI heads back to Rome

By Elise Harris

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Pope Benedict XVI, May 11, 2010. Credit Mazur/www.thepapalvisit.org.uk (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

With two restful weeks outside of the Vatican behind him and two honorary doctorates in hand, Benedict XVI has again returned to Rome, where he has a rare public event set for the summer.

“Holiness, thank you very much for your unexpected and most welcome words, for the blessing that you have given to Castel Gandolfo and its inhabitants,” mayor Milvia Monachesi told the retired Pope as he left the city July 14.

In addition to expressing her gratitude for the special blessing Benedict gave to the city and all who live in it, Monachesi also thanked him for a book he had given to her, reported Italian agency Castelli News.

“We are happy that you have received our silent closeness, full of love and our great excitement for your presence,” she said, adding that his blessing “was for us a great gift and the confirmation of a deep and lasting bond.”

She wished him a good trip back to Rome, and assured the former pontiff that “wherever you will be you will not ever lack our prayer and affection.”

Benedict left for a two week stay in the small Italian city Castel Gandolfo June 30, and returned July 14.

The city, which lies about 15 miles southeast of Rome, has not been officially used as a papal residence since Benedict XVI – who now goes by “Fr. Benedict” – spent just over two months there following his Feb. 28, 2013 resignation. He currently lives in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican Gardens.

While there, Fr. Benedict received two honorary doctorates from both the Pontifical John Paul II University of Krakow and the Krakow Academy of Music.

The university specifically recognized Benedict's “great respect for musical tradition of the Church,” and “special concern for the noble beauty of sacred music and its proper place in the celebration of the sacred liturgical rites of the Church.”

However, Benedict's busy summer isn't over. At the end of August he will also take part in the inauguration of the “Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Roman Library” at the Pontifical Teutonic College, scheduled for Aug. 30.

The Ratzinger Foundation confirmed to CNA that he will first celebrate Mass at the College for this year’s meeting of his former theology students called the “Schulerkreis.” Following Mass, he will take part in an inauguration ceremony at the library.

The library section dedicated to his life and thought is currently in the process of being catalogued. It includes books by or about him and his studies, many donated by Benedict XVI himself.

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