Pope Francis and the Curia depart Rome to begin spiritual exercises
At 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon, the pope and other superiors of the Vatican Curia boarded this bus for Ariccia to begin their spiritual exercises.
This year's theme is the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, according to the Gospel of St. Matthew. The preacher of the exercises will be the Franciscan Giulio Michelini.
The pope and the other participants will begin each day by celebrating mass at 7:30 p.m. in the morning. They will attend two daily meditations, pray Vespers together, and end the day with Eucharistic adoration before dinner at 7:30 p.m. They are scheduled to return to Rome on Friday morning.
The tradition of the pope and the curia doing Lenten spiritual exercises was initiated by Pope Paul VI in 1964. Among the preachers, two of them ended up becoming pope: Karol Wojtyla in 1976, and Joseph Ratzinger in 1983.
Pope Francis returns to Rome after spiritual retreat; sends Aleppo 100,000 euros
The last day of Pope Francis' spiritual retreat concluded with this Mass. It was offered for Syria. In addition to this gesture, the pope also included an important donation to the city of Aleppo.
He has raised 100,000 euros from members of the Roman Curia to send to the martyred Syrian city. It serves as a beacon of hope for peace that seems increasingly closer after six years of war. On March 15, Syria will enter its seventh year of conflict.
Franciscan Guilio Michelini, presider of the pope's spiritual retreat, has expressed the gratitude of the Aleppans.
"In thanksgiving for the collection of money destined for Aleppo, Fr. Ibrahim has written a brief email, together with the Custody of the Holy Land. It expresses the gratitude from Aleppo's poor, for those who celebrated the Eucharist this morning in accordance with the pope's intention, and for the generous donation of 100,000 euros."
During the spiritual exercises, the pope and members of the Curia read the testimony of this pastor of Aleppo, Franciscan Ibrahim Alsabagh.
The pope also thanked Guilio Michelini for his efforts to lead these spiritual exercises.
"I want to thank you for the work you've done; how you've prepared yourself. This means responsibility, and taking things seriously. Thank you for all that you have given us."
After the last meditation and photos with the religious who manage the Divine Master house, Pope Francis boarded the bus to Rome, where he arrived around 11:30 in the morning.
With very kind permission from Rome Reports TV News Agency