John Paul II Returning to Italian Alps for Vacation

First Time in 3 Years

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 4, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II begins a vacation Monday in the Valle d'Aosta in the Italian Alps.



Having missed a holiday in the Alps for the past two years -- in 2002 because of the World Youth Day in Canada, and in 2003 because of health problems -- the Pope will breathe fresh alpine air for the 10th time in the village of Les Combes of Introd. The vacation is scheduled to run until July 17.

On Sunday, after praying the Angelus and bidding the pilgrims farewell, the Holy Father announced his imminent period of rest.

"While I prepare to live this brief summer holiday, my thoughts go to the families who have planned their holidays in this period: I wish that all will spend them in an environment of serene rest," he said.

"At the same time, I am thinking of those who for different reasons will not be able to have real vacations," the Pope added.

"I hope that all can take advantage of a necessary pause in their work activity and that opportune recreational activities will be promoted, enriched by genuine human relations, to relieve persons who are alone and in difficulty," he said.

During his holidays, the Holy Father will stay in the small Chalet du Fond, made of wood and stone, which the Salesians use for summer camps, and in which an elevator was installed two years ago.

From his bedroom window in the chalet, and from the dining room, the Pope will be able to see Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe.

During his holiday, the Pope will travel by car to places in the mountains, talk to old friends, read books of philosophy, theology and literature, and dedicate long periods of time to prayer.