Pope Francis may spend summer in Vatican rather than Castel Gandolfo

Speculation is that pontiff will stay in sweltering Rome in solidarity with those who cannot afford a holiday

Pope Francis: the reason the pontiff gave for choosing to live in the Santa Marta residence was that he did not want to become isolated, instead wished to continue to lead a normal life. Photograph: Giampiero Sposito/Reuters

Pope Francis: the reason the pontiff gave for choosing to live in the Santa Marta residence was that he did not want to become isolated, instead wished to continue to lead a normal life. Photograph: Giampiero Sposito/Reuters

Sat, Jun 1, 2013, 01:08


Is Pope Francis about to spring another little surprise? Since his election last March, Francis has defied pontifical custom and practice in many ways, ranging from his decision to live in the Vatican B & B, the Domus Santa Marta, through to his free and easy “walkabouts” during public papal audiences.

If widespread Italian media speculation is to be believed, the latest break with tradition by Francis could be a decision to stay in the Vatican throughout the normally long and hot Roman summer, rather than moving to the cooler climes of the pontifical summer residence at Castel Gandolfo south of Rome. Media speculation is that Francis may do so by way of solidarity with those many Italians who cannot afford a summer holiday. Last week, national statistics agency Istat said one in two Italians had not been able to afford a holiday in 2012.

Asked about the issue yesterday, senior Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi had no comment to make, suggesting on the contrary that the pope may take a short break in July, prior to his departure to Brazil for the World Youth celebratory week in Rio de Janeiro from July 22nd to July 28th.

Whatever about the Castelgandolfo speculation, there was confirmation earlier this week about the reasoning behind the pope’s decision not to move into the pontifical apartment but rather to live in the Santa Marta residence.

In a letter dated May 15th to an old Argentine friend, Fr Enrique Rodriguez, a letter published this week by the Argentine daily, Clarin, Pope Francis writes that he opted not to move into the Apostolic Palace in order not to become “isolated” and to continue leading a “normal life”.