Pope Benedict Makes Suprise Visit to Abruzzo


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(07 Aug 10 - RV) Pope Benedict XVI yesterday made a surprise visit to Abruzzo, marking the feast of the Transfiguration, that commemorates the metamorphosis of Christ on the Mount.

Vatican Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi said the Holy Father wanted to visit a small shrine known as "Our Lady of the Needy", which lies high in the hills on the border between the Lazio and Abruzzo regions. There he remained in prayer with the small group of his companions.

The Pope then went to Carsoli, in Abruzzo, stopping there to have lunch with a religious community where Italian Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini is a guest.

That afternoon, accompanied by his secretary, he met Cardinal Angelo Sodano. The Cardinal is vacationing in the town of Rocca di Mezzo in Abruzzo, which is recovering from an earthquake that struck the region in 2009, devastating the capital city of l'Aquila.

During the course of his visit Pope Benedict stopped in the church of San Leucio and prayed for all those affect by the quake. He met with the pastor, the mayor and municipal administrators.

In the evening the Holy Father returned to his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. Fr Lombardi specified that the visit was of a "private and prayerful nature". Notwithstanding, the Pope warmly greeted those he encountered on his journey and prayed for those still suffering the consequences of the earthquake.