The Holy See has confirmed that the former sovereign pontiff made a visit to Castelli Romani, southeast of Rome, on July 25, 2019. It had been four years since Benedict XVI set foot outside Vatican grounds.
The emeritus pope left the Vatican at 4:15 p.m. on Friday, July 25 for the first part of his visit: to Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer villa.
The former sovereign pontiff remained there for about one and a half hours, greeting the personnel and praying the rosary in the gardens of the papal villa.
Then Benedict XVI went to the Rocca di Papa region, in order to pray at the shrine of the Madonna del Tufo, before continuing to the archbishop’s palace in Frascati, where waiting for him was Bishop Raffaello Martinelli, the local bishop who was appointed by the former pope in 2009.
Witnesses of Joseph Ratzinger’s unexpected visit described him as a man still in good health for being 92 years old, “smiling, aware, curious, available, and affable.”
What remains is this unusual situation of a former pope who, having renounced his charge, still wearing the signs of his bygone papacy, is strolling in the summer residence of the popes that the current successor of St. Peter disdains to frequent. The picture of a disoriented Church.