In Nature, Pope Sees an "Epiphany of God"

Taking the Rain, Wind and Sun in Stride, Says Aide

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LES COMBES, Italy, JULY 12, 2004 ( John Paul II took another excursion by car into the Alps, in his second week of vacation.

"I believe that today the Pope is truly resting here a lot," Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls said, in a phone statement from the mountains where the Holy Father is staying.

The spokesman told Vatican Radio that the weather is marked by bouts of rain, wind and sun, "but all of this doesn't bother" the Pope.

"He sees this nature in all its beauty," added Navarro Valls, director of the Vatican press office. "It is obvious that he sees on all this an epiphany of God, a manifestation of the Author of this nature."

The spokesman said that during vacation there are three key elements in the Pope's day.

First, there are "the long readings," Navarro Valls said. "The Pope asked that those books be brought in the car that he couldn't read when he is in the Vatican, for obvious reasons."

Second is prayer, "which at times is silent, although on other occasions one can hear [him] praying," said the spokesman.

Third, there "are the long conversations with the people around him," the Vatican spokesman said.

"One can see that the Pope wants to keep in contact with everything that goes on in the world," he said. "Frequently there is bad news, but there is also good news. One can see that the Pope wants to be in touch with the joys and sorrows of humanity, even though he is physically far away from the 'workplace' in the Vatican."

On Sunday the Holy Father presided over the midday Angelus with about 5,000 pilgrims, speaking in a stronger voice than in past weeks and looking tanned.