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Papal courtyard appearance surprises pilgrims

Slightly tanned and walking with his cane, Pope John Paul II joined visitors in the courtyard of the Castel Gandolfo papal summer villa for last Sunday's recitation of the Angelus prayer.

The pope surprised the pilgrims by joining them in the courtyard instead of addressing them from the balcony, as was his custom in past years. Using his cane and assisted by his personal secretary, Bishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, the pope walked out into the courtyard and to the chair he used last Wednesday for his weekly general audience.

The crowd went wild when the pope appeared in a ground-floor doorway and waved his cane; for months he has not taken more than a few steps in public, instead being pushed on a moving platform to his chair.

In his Angelus address, Pope John Paul encouraged others to do what he was doing: taking vacation time for "physical and spiritual renewal".

He also said, "I cannot but remember with affection those who do not have the possibility of going on vacation. I am thinking especially of those who are in prisons and hospitals and those who are at home alone."


17 Jul 2002