Skip to comments.Inside Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict's spectacular temporary retirement home
Posted on 02/28/2013 2:33:54 PM PST by Alex Murphy
Even though Pope Benedict XVI is leaving the papacy, he'll remain in sumptuous, familiar surroundings at least for a few weeks.
Sometime in April, Benedict will take up permanent residence in Mater Ecclesiae, a modest convent for cloistered nuns at the Vatican. The convent is under renovation, however, so in the meantime, Benedict will live at Castel Gandolfo, the small town of about 8,000 people a few miles southeast of Rome that has been the summer retreat for popes for almost four centuries.
Vatican records indicate that Benedict has spent an average of five weeks a year at the grand Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo since he assumed the papacy in 2005, so he should feel quite at home.
And what a home it is. The complex, which overlooks Lake Albano and what's left of the enormous villa of the first-century Roman Emperor Domitian, actually dwarfs Vatican City by almost 400,000 square feet. It comes complete with landscaped gardens, an arboretum, natural conservatories, museums and fish ponds.
The sculptured gardens, which make up more than half of the estate, are a favorite retreat for popes, who have been known to frequently take long walk along their paths.
And don't forget the 25 dairy cattle, which are reputed to produce some of the finest milk in Europe.
The town is named for the castle of the Gandolfi family of Genoa, which was built around 1200. It was originally a fortress against marauders, which explains its high walls and other ancient barriers.
Formally speaking, the Vatican assumed control of Castel Gandolfo only in 1929 under the Lateran Treaty, which formalized relations between Italy and the independent state of Vatican City. But in reality, it has been the church's domain since 1596, when Pope Clement VIII seized it from the Savelli family in lieu of unpaid debts, according to the Vatican's official history.
Today, it's home not only to the Apostolic Palace but also the Vatican Observatory (where visitors can see a moon rock collected during the Apollo XVII mission), the Villa Barberini (where many remains of Domitian's palace are still visible), Villa Cybo (which is used by school of the Maestre Pie Filippini religious community), apartments for 21 employees and the Pontifical Church of St. Thomas of Villanova.
The spectacular view of Lake Albano from the complex has inspired many artists. Landscapes of the scene by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, J.M.W. Turner and Claude Lorraine, among others, hang in some of the world's premier museums.
The complex itself is the setting for stunning works of religious art, as well, among them frescoes by Jan Henryk de Rosen and Angelo Righetti's statue "Madonna of the Park."
The Pontifical Church, designed in 1658 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the leading sculptor of his age, features interior domes and statues by Antonio Raggi, famous for grand pieces such as the "Virgin and Child" in Paris and the marble "Death of Saint Cecelia" in Rome. One of Bernini's own masterpieces, a fontana, or fountain, adorns the the piazza facing the Apostolic Palace.
At Castel Gandolfo, "I find everything: a mountain, a lake; I even see the sea," Benedict remarked in 2011. Those words are now engraved on a plaque in the town hall.
Benedict will move in to Castel Gandolfo late Thursday afternoon. He'll get there by helicopter a tradition started in 1975 by Pope Paul VI, who wanted to avoid traffic on the ancient Appian Way.
Paul VI was an especially enthusiastic visitor to Castel Gandolfo. In 1972, he described its charms in words that might resonate with Benedict, who said he was abdicating because of his age and declining health:
"We, too, enjoy this God-given gift, by breathing the fresh air, admiring the beauty of our natural surroundings, appreciating the enchantment of its light and silence and seeking here to restore our lack of energy, which is never enough and now even a little scarce."
Sometime in April, Benedict will take up permanent residence in Mater Ecclesiae, a modest convent for cloistered nuns at the Vatican. The convent is under renovation, however, so in the meantime, Benedict will live at Castel Gandolfo, the small town of about 8,000 people a few miles southeast of Rome that has been the summer retreat for popes for almost four centuries. And what a home it is. The complex, which overlooks Lake Albano and what's left of the enormous villa of the first-century Roman Emperor Domitian, actually dwarfs Vatican City by almost 400,000 square feet. It comes complete with landscaped gardens, an arboretum, natural conservatories, museums and fish ponds....
....Formally speaking, the Vatican assumed control of Castel Gandolfo only in 1929 under the Lateran Treaty, which formalized relations between Italy and the independent state of Vatican City. But in reality, it has been the church's domain since 1596, when Pope Clement VIII seized it from the Savelli family in lieu of unpaid debts, according to the Vatican's official history....
....Benedict will move in to Castel Gandolfo late Thursday afternoon. He'll get there by helicopter a tradition started in 1975 by Pope Paul VI, who wanted to avoid traffic on the ancient Appian Way.
No to shabby. Hope he likes astronomy or those telescopes are going to go to waste.
I don’t believe he will be at Castel Gandolfo after he retires. He won’t be pope anymore, so he has no right to be there.
If he does not pass on first. When I saw a picture of him today, he did not look too good. Not a good sign.
I suspect there must be some major health issues for him to take the drastic step of abdication.
I suspect he will deteriorate fairly fast...he’s probably been trying to hold on until his term was over, but now he won’t fight it.
The Pope Emeritus is retired, he is at the Castel Gandolfo.
The Vatican is letting him stay there until Mater Ecclesiae is finished, which is only a few months away.
I doubt very much the new Pope will throw him out in the meantime.
After seeing him today, we can’t even be sure he’ll live long enough to move into Mater Ecclesiae...
It’s good to be Pope! I guess the nuns are safe.
If Jesus was walking down the road right now looking for a place to stay, he can come into my house. The entire master bedroom is his. We’ll sleep on the couch.
I thought the same thing. I don't think he has much time left on this Earth.
Matthew 8:20 Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Matthew 6:19-21 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
??? Your point?
That is what I also say, he does not have much time left.
Do I seriously have to explain why opulent splendor, sumptuous and expensive clothing, food, furnishings and luxuries at every turn is NOT what Jesus expected his servants to live in or for?
Okay, so he’ll be there for a few months. That’s not like living there permanently. Oh, and I doubt the future pope would kick him out. But then again, you never know how a future pope might react to having a retired pope around. The last time it happened, it was a different world. Some of the potential popes may not like that idea.
A typical “head of state” trip.
God bless His Holiness, Bendict XVI, Pope Emeritus.
But leave it to NBC ro emphasize the wrong thing.
It is being reported that the Nuns are vacating, and that remodeling is being done to make the place habitable for a retired church leader and his servants to take over the estate.
“”Someone with a suspicious mind and deep knowledge of Vatican trivia might have guessed that something was going on months ago. Last November, a community of cloistered nuns vacated the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, located inside Vatican Gardens, two years before they were expected to do so.
The monastery has since been closed for renovation.””
“”Once renovation work is complete at Mater Ecclesiae, founded in 1994 as a convent for a succession of female monastic orders by Benedict’s predecessor, John Paul II, the new pensioner will be able to move in. The nuns, who occupied up to 12 cells in the upper floors of the building, have moved out. Who else will live in the compound to serve the former pope is unclear.
Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera said that the refurbishment had begun in November — at a time when, it seems, few if anyone in the Vatican had an inkling of what was on Benedict’s mind.””
He's an old man who will require medical attention and 24/7 security; the alternative being for him to be kidnapped and murdered by al Qaeda or some other group of crazies.
You tell us where he should go. He's going to be at CG for 2 months before he moves to a convent in Vatican City so his security can be easily (and cheaply!) provided for. Have you ever seen the inside of a convent before? I have, and I would not care to live in one -- think college dormitory, but with less room and more drab furnishings.
To send him to a monastery somewhere else would cost more, and the intrusion and publicity would be completely unfair to the monks who already lived there.
I'm not necessarily talking about Pope Benedict but the more obvious point that the trappings and grandeur of the Roman Catholic Church, with its vast wealth and ornate palaces over the centuries, is not what Jesus would have wanted for his disciples. I think it detracts from the Gospel and damages the cause of Christ. Of course, there will always be those who refuse to consider anything negative about "their" church and who will have all manner of excuses, rationalizations and justifications for there being no problem whatsoever with anything the church does. I have a hard time picturing the Apostle Peter accepting all that passes for his "successors" these days. There is little that seems humble there.
“Do I seriously have to explain why opulent splendor, sumptuous and expensive clothing, food, furnishings and luxuries at every turn is NOT what Jesus expected his servants to live in or for?”
Yes, you have to explain it because you have no idea of what you’re talking about.
1) “opulent splendor” - the pope doesn’t own any of it so it is essentially irrelevant. Most of it is even open to the public and is of great historical value.
2) “sumptuous and expensive clothing” - none of which he owns.
3) “food” - Nope. Most popes in history have eaten relatively simple meals.
4)”furnishings and luxuries” - none of which he owns.
5) “at every turn is NOT what Jesus expected his servants to live in or for?”
When you show me where Jesus condemned the splendor of the Temple I might take you seriously. Jesus not only didn’t condemn it, He paid taxes to support it.
And the operating budget of the Vatican, from where the pope controls the entire world, is half that of the University of Notre Dame.
Sometimes I wonder why we bother.
The Pope’s opulent wealth and servants is different, he only gets to use it in this life, he doesn’t technically own it and he can’t use it or take it with him after he dies, like other rich people do....evidently, so it is totally different.
Neither Jesus nor Peter nor ANY of the Apostles give the slightest hint that being in the soul winning business comes with the lifestyle fit for a king or billionaire. The servant is worthy of his hire, Paul said, and thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treads the corn. Nothing I read says leaders of the church should live in palaces with the finest furnishings, clothing, jeweled crowns and scepters. So what that he "owns" none of it...as long as he is alive he will never want for a thing in creature comforts the regular man dares not even dream of. Of course he won't "take it with him"...nobody leaves this earthly realm with the wealth he has. That's why Jesus said to store up your treasures in heaven, because where your treasure is, so will also your heart be.
But, hey, he's your guy, your organization. If you are happy to see your hard-earned money going to pay for such lavishness rather than to the poor, like Jesus told the rich man, keep on contributing.
Sure the church has many ministries to the poor all over the world, sure they run orphanages and hospitals and any number of good works. Sure no matter how much money is spent on the poor they will always be with us. But couldn't more be done? Isn't there always more that can be done... mouths to feed, feet to shod, bodies to clothe and medically treat, homes to be built, shelter to be procured, children to rescue, widows to care for, etc.? Can't we ALL do more to win souls to Christ through our means?
I've seen Catholics on this forum criticize television "evangelists" for their lavish lifestyles and constant begging for money with promises of God making them wealthy, too. They make me just as sick!
I have a right to voice my thoughts on this without you and your peeps telling me I have "no idea" of what I'm talking about. Yeah, I do! I don't believe Jesus meant for his church to be like a kingdom on earth complete with all the splendor. The Jewish temple in Jerusalem was the ONLY one in the whole world and it had within it the Holy of Holies where the Bema seat (mercy seat) was located. God, himself, gave instructions for precisely how it was to be built and furnished and it was the place for the people of Israel to meet with His presence from all over the world. And they came yearly to do just that. There weren't lavish temples in every city - just the one. And it was destroyed in 70 A.D. just as Jesus said it would be and it has NEVER been rebuilt. So, please, spare me the comparison. There IS no comparison. Perhaps the Church of Laodicea, spoken of in Revelation 3 can be compared:
To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of Gods creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarmneither hot nor coldI am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Rev. 3:14-18)
There is a "duty" we all as Christians have to the lost and dying world. It is definitely NOT to store up riches on earth no matter how much "historical value" it has. From Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible on Revelation 3:17, we read:
and increased with goods: with outward peace and prosperity, with much natural and divine light and knowledge, with the purity of Gospel ordinances, even beyond the former church state in her own imagination:
and have need of nothing: contenting herself with these external things: true believers, as considered in Christ, stand in need of nothing indeed, they are complete in him, and have everything in him; but, as considered in themselves, they are daily in need of daily food for their souls, as for their bodies, of fresh light and life, strength and comfort, and of new supplies of grace; wherefore this church shows great ignorance of herself, as well as great pride and arrogance to express herself in this manner:
and knowest not that thou art wretched; as all men are in a state of nature and unregeneracy; which may be the case of many professors, and they be ignorant of it; as to be under a sentence of wrath, obnoxious to the curses of the law, in danger of hell and destruction, lost and undone, and unable to extricate themselves out of such a state: true believers account themselves wretched, as the Apostle Paul did, on account of indwelling sin, and the plague of their own hearts, which the members of this church, the greater part of them, were ignorant of:
and miserable; a miserable man is one that is attended with outward afflictions, but this was not the case of this church; and with spiritual poverty, blindness, and nakedness, and this was her case; some persons neither know their misery, nor their need of mercy:
and poor; not in purse, nor in spirit, nor with respect to outward afflictions, nor as to her church state, but in a spiritual sense; one whom the Jews call a (d) , "poor in the law"; as such may be said to be who have nothing to eat that is fit to eat; nothing to wear but rags, and have no money to buy either; who are in debt, and not able to pay, nor to help themselves on any account; and this may be the case of professors, and yet not known and considered by them: and blind; natural men are blind as to a saving knowledge of God in Christ, as to the way of salvation by Christ, as to the plague of their own hearts, as to the work of the Spirit of God upon the soul, and as to the truths of the Gospel, in the power of them; but here it regards blindness with respect to her church state, and its imperfection: and naked; sin has stripped man of his moral clothing; man's own righteousness will not cover his nakedness; and whoever is destitute of the righteousness of Christ is a naked person.
If the shoe fits, wear it. I just don't believe a Christian organization should be known for its vast wealth and holdings. Maybe it's just me, but I think Jesus had something far more glorious in mind than that which this world offers. I think Jesus meant for us to spare nothing for the cause of the Gospel.
“Like I predicted...excuses, rationalization, justification.”
No, just truth - which apparently you can’t actually deal with.
“Neither Jesus nor Peter nor ANY of the Apostles give the slightest hint that being in the soul winning business comes with the lifestyle fit for a king or billionaire.”
Your view is entirely skewed and it is affecting how you discuss this. Let’s be honest, you’re going to hate the Catholic Church no matter what it does. Jesus nor Peter ever talked about hospitals, schools, orphanages, clinics, job training centers, soup kitchens, universities, or food pantries yet the Catholic Church has all of those things and has to fund them as well. They’re all part of the “wealth” of the Church as well. I guess you think we should get rid of those things too? I know a bishop who donated a house to an old poor man who was also an alcoholic so that he would have somewhere to live and not end up on the street. The bishop would not have been able to do that if someone had not donated that house to the Church in the first place. Is Benny Hinn going to do that anytime soon?
“But, hey, he’s your guy, your organization. If you are happy to see your hard-earned money going to pay for such lavishness rather than to the poor, like Jesus told the rich man, keep on contributing.”
And there’s the skewed view. Either-Or. We give money so that we have beautiful things with which to serve God. We also use those beautiful things to serve the poor in order to serve God. Jesus said we would always have the poor. I do not want the Church to get rid of all the things donated to it so that it has nothing left and still will have to feed the poor somehow the next day. We can better serve the poor with our property than without it. A priest I know opens up his parish all every day for local seniors in a poor neighborhood so they have somewhere to go and so doctors and nurses can check on them once a week (for free!). With no parish hall he wouldn’t able to do that. It would be impossible. That parish is the heart of the whole neighborhood - even for non-Catholics.
“Sure the church has many ministries to the poor all over the world, sure they run orphanages and hospitals and any number of good works. Sure no matter how much money is spent on the poor they will always be with us. But couldn’t more be done?”
Yes, you, for instance, could stop wasting time attacking the Church and actually be doing something in your own life to raise money or donate time for the poor. But no. Today we will feed tens of millions. I don’t know what you do. But apparently you’ll be wasting time online complaining about people who have probably done more than you ever will.
“Isn’t there always more that can be done... mouths to feed, feet to shod, bodies to clothe and medically treat, homes to be built, shelter to be procured, children to rescue, widows to care for, etc.? Can’t we ALL do more to win souls to Christ through our means?”
Yes, all of us. That means you too. So what are you doing today?
“I’ve seen Catholics on this forum criticize television “evangelists” for their lavish lifestyles and constant begging for money with promises of God making them wealthy, too. They make me just as sick!”
We complain about them for the following reasons:
1) Many of them seem to be frauds.
2) They do have lavish lifestyles which are about them.
3) If a bishop lives in a nice house he’s only there for his tenure and doesn’t even own the house. He uses it and moves on or dies. He gets little benefit from it other than a place sleep or eat. Do you think Benny Hinn is living that way?
4) All the televangelists are spreading heresy.
Evidently living the life of the fantastically rich until you die, is totally different from living the life of the fantastically rich until you die, yet having had documents of ownership.
So, in addition to rationalizing, excusing and justifying, add defensiveness and personal attacks against any and all who DARE to name the slightest things wrong with the Catholic Church. They train y'all well.
Here are a few words of wisdom:
Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (I Peter 5:2,3)
For an overseer, as Gods steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain. Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. (Titus 1:7,8)
Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. (I Timothy 3:2,3)
Deacons, likewise, should be worthy of respect, not hypocritical, not drinking a lot of wine, not greedy for money, They must have clear consciences about possessing the mystery of the Christian faith. (I Timothy 3:8,9)
“So, in addition to rationalizing, excusing and justifying, add defensiveness and personal attacks against any and all who DARE to name the slightest things wrong with the Catholic Church. They train y’all well.”
No, I was just right all along. Telling the truth about you is not a personal attack. That’s how it will stay too.
So...we all can assume you are living in poverty..and giving your very all, money, life, blood, breath for the "cause"?
Nope. You pretty much just took a stab at what you thought was the truth about me. Since you don't know me personally, you cannot know what I do or don't do. What "stays" is you made personal attacks instead of simply answering my contentions about the extravagant and scandalous living of the upper echelon of your church. You apparently don't appreciate anyone criticizing them and whatever they do is probably just peachy with you. Keep sending in your tithes! They need every mite they can get.
Is your pastor homeless?
You’re too right. Nothing says “humble servant of Jesus” quite like people kissing your ring while you sit on a throne at your palace.
This conversation went on before the new Pope was named. I think it is slightly humorous that the new Pope Francis is making it a point to turn down the extravagance and foofaraw enjoyed by his predecessors and at least appear to be the humble servant of Jesus. Time will tell. I'd like to think he reads Free Republic! ;o)
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Living on a boat for eight years or living at Castel Gandolfo?
Pot = kettle black?
We can’t take it with us, and I’m sure His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, Emeritus, is profoundly aware of that fact.
Is there some reason you want to judge him in this way?
If I had a free crib like that, I’d retire too.
As for judging Pope Benedict, had you actually read the exchange on this thread, you would see that it was concerning the lifestyle of all the Vatican denizens. Don't you think Pope Francis is also questioning the extravagance and kingly excess of his new office? Isn't he the one who is making changes? Is HE a pot, too?
You sure about that???
It’s your homepage. I can only judge from what I see there.
It's really funny when folks lounge around on their yachts slandering The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church Jesus Christ Himself founded. If after 2000 years the Church didn't have a pot to tinkle in, the same people would be running off at the mouth about the spendthrift Church having never invested in and preserved anything for future generations to have a connection to their long history and for not taking care of what's been donated to the Church.
It's really not surprising that such possessions focused individuals prefer one of the tens of thousands of squabbling alternatives that have grown out various State confiscations of Church property back when outlawing Christianity was all the rage in Europe. You can bet there won't be many threads from the same folks about where Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI resides once he moves out of this temporary residence.
The fact of the matter is, those who murder their own children in the womb to maintain their "lifestyle" make lots of noise about other folks because they don't want anyone to focuse on them and see the blood and "Superslick Christian Liberty Grease" on their on their hands from murdering infants with abortaficient contraceptives.
Proof of that is seeing some dog retread month old garbage as an excuse to go back to their vomit.
This focus on Church property of late looks like the first tender shoots of a propaganda campaign by "Christians" who will be cheering on the Federal government when it begins confiscating Church property for noncompliance with the HHS mandate.
I wonder if there’s a boat house with a bass boat and sea-doo’s?