In style with his own personal manner, Pope Francis left the formalities of a welcoming ceremony to Vatican authorities, who awaited the arrival of the Pope Emeritus at the Vatican heliport. These included Cardinals Bertello - President of the Governatorate, Bertone - Secretary of State, and Sodano - the deacon of the College of Cardinals as well as some bishops. But Pope Francis was awaiting his predecessor at the entrance to the “Mater Ecclesiae” Monastery in the Vatican Gardens where Benedict will be residing.
The Pope Emeritus left the Vatican on February 28th after his resignation, and had been staying at the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo in the Alban Hills.
He chose to leave the Vatican immediately after his resignation to physically remove himself from the process of electing his successor.
His absence also gave workers time to finish up renovations on the monastery on the edge of the Vatican gardens that until last year housed groups of cloistered nuns who were invited for a few years at a time to live inside the Vatican to pray for the Pontiff and Church at large.
In the small building, with a chapel attached, Benedict will live with his personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, and the four consecrated women who do the housekeeping and prepare his meals. Inside the small building, Benedict has at his disposal a small library and a study. A guest room is available for when his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, comes to visit.
Today’s was not the first meeting between the Pope and the Pope Emeritus. In fact Francis visited Benedict in March in Castel Gandolfo, and they have spoken by telephone. It is however the first time in history that two Popes will be next-door neighbours!