UK & World News
Retired Pope Spends First Night In Front Of TV
Former pope Benedict XVI spent his first night in retirement watching TV after dinner and having a stroll around his summer residence, the Vatican has revealed.
Archbishop Georg Ganswein, his private secretary, disclosed the details of the 85-year-old ex-leader of the Roman Catholic Church's new life in a telephone call with Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.
Monsignor Ganswein added that the Pope Emeritus, as he is now known, had also "slept well" after watching TV news bulletins of his final day in office.
The day had ended with a poignant helicopter ride from Rome to his residence 20 miles south of the Italian capital at Castel Gandolfo, where he will remain for several weeks before moving into a specially prepared apartment at a convent within the Vatican.
Father Lombardi said: "In our conversation I was told he (Benedict XVI) was doing very well. He was relaxed, serene and peaceful.
"He was very appreciative of the reports which covered his last few intense moments. He had dinner and then went for a walk inside the palace at Castel Gandolfo - in the Hall of the Swiss and then afterwards he prayed and went to bed.
"When he woke he celebrated Mass at 7am and had breakfast as well as reading all the messages he had received. He will then spend the afternoon in the gardens of Castel Gandolfo in prayer."
Father Lombardi also revealed how the Pope Emeritus had brought with him several books to read on theology as well as music to listen to - and he also hopes to return to one of his favourite pastimes playing the piano in the evening.
Among the books that Benedict had taken with him was one called The Esthetic Theology Of Von Balthasar.
Hans Urs von Balthasar was a Swiss theologian who died in 1988 and whose funeral was attended by the former pope when he was still plain Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. He has described him as "perhaps the most cultured man of our time".
His new home at Castel Gandolfo is a villa overlooking the crater lake Albano and he will be sleeping in a single bed no more than 75cm wide without a canopy - unlike the one he was used to in his eight years at the Apostolic Palace in his Vatican apartments.
There were reports in the Italian media that his new home meant that he would be at last able to smoke in peace.
There have long been rumours that Benedict enjoyed a crafty cigarette, but officials have always refused to confirm this.
However, Father Lombardi did dismiss a suggestion he was wearing "medical equipment", saying: "He is an elderly person, but in good health. Recently we have seen him older, tired and every now and then with a stick, but that's only to lean on."
Vatican officials also released rarely seen footage of the moment that Camerlengo or Vatican chamberlain Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone sealed up the former pope's personal apartments in the Apostolic Palace now there is no pope and it is a "sede vacante" (empty seat).
The ceremony takes place every time a pope dies and is a throwback to centuries gone by where the Roman hordes would rampage through the palace on the death of a pontiff looting and pillaging.
The rooms will now remain closed until a new pope is elected at next month's conclave.
In the video Cardinal Bertone is seen carrying a staff known as a ferula to show his authority.
He could also be seen applying white tape to the doors of the lift which Benedict used to take him from the second floor of the apartments to the third floor where he would appear at a window to give his traditional Sunday Angelus or sermon.
Red ribbon was placed on the doors leading to the apartments and these were closed with a wax seal in a ceremony that took place at 8pm just as Benedict formally retired and which also started with prayers.
A similar sealing up ceremony also took place at the apostolic apartments in San Giovanni in Laterano which is the pope's official church in Rome as his other title is also Bishop of Rome.
Meanwhile, letters have been sent out to the 206 cardinals who make up the College of Cardinals inviting them to formal talks which will begin in Rome on Monday - the main thing they will decide upon is the start date of the next Conclave at which the new pope will be elected.
However only those cardinals aged under 80 are eligible to vote and with recent resignations and illness it is thought the final number entering into the Sistine Chapel for the secret meeting will be 115.
Nevertheless, the eyes of the world will be on the chimney watching for the white smoke which signifies the election of a new pope.