Prelate: Rest Is Priority for Pontiff's Vacation

Says He's Praying, Studying, Playing the Piano

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BRESSANONE, Italy, JULY 29, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI enjoyed the first full day of his summer vacation at Bressanone's major seminary in the mountainous region of Trentino-Alto Adige in Northern Italy.

The Pope will spend his holidays with his older brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, a priest and musician, who was a choir director at the cathedral of Regensburg, Germany. The Holy Father's vacations will last through Aug. 11.

Bishop Wilhelm Emil Egger of Bolzano-Bressanone, met with journalists today and explained that during his stay the Pontiff "prays, rests, studies, plays the piano and reads the newspapers."

The prelate acknowledged that he has received innumerable requests from individuals who wish to meet with Benedict XVI, but said he has had to decline the requests as he is "the custodian of the Holy Father's rest."

"During these days, I have already had to protect the Holy Father's rest various times," he added.

When asked about possible outings, Bishop Eggar responded: "I don't know anything and if I said something, the Pope would not even be able to walk down the street because of the crowds. I try to protect his privacy."

He added, "Here he can write in peace, far from his daily occupations, and this is also a vacation."

During this period, Benedict XVI is scheduled to hold just two public meetings: the praying of the midday Angelus on Aug. 3 and 10.

The vacation will also provide the Pope an opportunity to make progress on documents and books that he is writing. It is rumored that he will use the time to work on a third encyclical and the second part of his book, "Jesus of Nazareth."