He called "the beauty of creation, the first book that God has entrusted to the mind and heart of man." The "beauty of nature impels the soul to recall God´s goodness," he told the crowd that gathered to pray the Angelus with him.
It was the only scheduled public appearance of the Pope´s 12-day summer break in the Italian Alps. The holiday ends this Friday.
In view of "the peaks that are already familiar to me, my spirit often turns to Mary, whom God raised above all angelic creatures, and made a guide in the path to heaven," the Holy Father said.
Speaking from his wood-and-stone chalet, John Paul II thanked the diocese and bishop of Aosta; the Salesians, whose chalet is accommodating him; and the authorities and inhabitants of the Val d´Aosta, for their welcome and hospitality. The archbishop of Turin and bishop of Chiavari were also on hand.
The Pope joked with the people who arrived, despite the weather, saying: "You have come with your umbrellas."
Before praying the midday Angelus, he addressed the six mayors of the municipalities that suffered most from last October´s floods.
"Through you, I wish to renew my support of the families that have suffered and suffer from that calamity, exhorting all to persevere in the reconstruction with a spirit of confidence and solidarity," the Holy Father said.
The Pope prayed before the statue of the Virgin of the Val d´Aosta, brought from the capital of the valley.
"It is the same statue that was taken through the villages of the region in 1948, infusing a renewed spirit of fraternity in the inhabitants of the Val d´Aosta after World War II," the Pope noted. "Let us pray to Mary, so that there will always be unity among Christians and so that justice, solidarity and peace will reign in the world."
Next Friday the G-8 summit opens in Genoa. It will bring together the leaders of the United States, Russia, Japan, France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Canada.
A week ago, John Paul II urged the G-8 leaders to "hear the cry of so many poor people" when discussing global policy at the summit. The Pope "is reflecting and praying so that the summit ... will mark the start of a new international attitude," his spokesman, Joaquín Navarro-Valls, said today, according to the Associated Press.
After the Angelus, the Pope greeted a group of Benedictine monks who had arrived from Switzerland, boys from the Oratory of Giussano, members of the pro-life movement of Pavia, a group of Focolares, members of Communion and Liberation, and the Turin soccer team, on holiday in the area.