Monastery home for Benedict

Mater Ecclesiae Monastery where Pope Benedict XVI will live. Photo / AP
Mater Ecclesiae Monastery where Pope Benedict XVI will live. Photo / AP

Tucked away in the leafy south-east corner of the Vatican City, lies the small monastery where the Pope will spend the rest of his days in quiet prayer and contemplation.

The nondescript, brown-walled building, had for the past eight years housed a group of nuns from around the world. But last October the sisters moved out and renovation and the construction of a new chapel began at the Mater Ecclesiae site.

The Holy See's chief spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said if the renovation went to plan, Benedict would move in next month with the title Bishop of Rome, after a temporary stay at the papal house at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome.

Yesterday at a press conference after Lombardi reiterated Benedict will spend his final years, praying, studying and writing, a bewildered French TV journalist, asked: "But what will he actually do?"

He will have no administrative or official duties, repeated Father Lombardi.

The [current] Holy Father's extreme discretion will ensure there is no clash between himself and the new Pope, the spokesman added.

The 450sq m monastery, with its own grounds and 27 gardeners, will provide the Pope with a 500sq m organic vegetable garden.

Much of his retinue will move in with him, including his dedicated secretary, the German monsignor, Georg Ganswein.

- Independent

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