Refreshed Pope ready to return to Vatican
Appearing healthier, Pope John Paul II was set to return to the Vatican yesterday, after his usual summer at the papal residence of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.
The Pope, who will celebrate the 24th anniversary of his pontificate this month, seemed in good humour when he prayed the Angelus with pilgrims gathered at Castel Gandolfo on Sunday. He spoke clearly in seven languages, overcoming problems of pronunciation he has had in recent months.
This summer, John Paul II turned his traditional Sunday meetings with pilgrims into audiences. After praying the Angelus, the Pope has lingered, personally greeting many of those present.
Zenit comments that the Holy Father's health has "undoubtedly improved". The Pope's physical improvement has surprised many. In France, the sale of regenerating pills based on tropical fruits - which pioneer AIDS researcher Luc Montagnier gave to John Paul II - has skyrocketed, despite the fact that the Holy Father is not taking the pills.
The Pope has called an ecumenical summit with Lutheran leaders, who will meet in St Peter's Basilica on Friday, to celebrate the birth of St. Bridget of Sweden. Next Sunday the Pope will canonise Opus Dei founder Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer.
Meanwhile the Mayor of Rome Walter Veltroni has announced that the city is making the Holy Father an honorary Roman citizen. For his part, the pope said he would "gladly accept this honor" from a city he has made his own. Veltroni said he first broached the idea in a meeting with the pope in January.
"It's a sign of recognition for a person who loves Rome and who has done a lot for our city," Veltroni said.
Zenit/Catholic New World
31 Oct 2002