Pope to hold retreat outside Vatican - a first

2014-02-27 21:06
Pope Francis celebrates a mass in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, on New Year's Day. (Andrew Medichini, AP)

Pope Francis celebrates a mass in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, on New Year's Day. (Andrew Medichini, AP)

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Vatican City - Pope Francis, cardinals, bishops and other Holy See officials will hold their week-long Lenten spiritual retreat outside the Vatican for the first time in living memory, the Vatican said on Thursday.

The retreat, a week of preaching and prayer, will he held in the relatively simple building of a religious institution in the town of Ariccia, in the Alban Hills about 24km away from the Vatican's frescoed halls.

It is the latest example of Pope Francis instilling more simplicity in the Vatican. He has already given up the spacious papal apartments for a suite in a guest house and uses a Ford Focus instead of the papal limousine.

Francis, the first Jesuit pope, is carrying on a tradition of his religious order to hold spiritual retreats away from peoples' usual place of work in order to inspire detachment and contemplation.

This year's retreat will take place 9 March to 14 March. During that time the pope suspends all private and public audiences. He and other participants hear preaching from a spiritual director.

The retreat was listed in a calendar of papal events for the next two months released by the Vatican.

Read more on:    pope francis  |  italy  |  religion
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