By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/5/2014 (1 year ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Furthering his credentials as the "people's pope," Pope Francis has decreed that the gardens of the papal summer residence, located outside Rome, should be opened to the public. The extensive gardens surround Castel Gandolfo, a ridge-top castle about 20 miles from the Italian capital, in an area known as the Alban Hills.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Up until the present, the lavish gardens were seldom seen, used - even by popes.
On exception was Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who used to spend his summer holidays in the castle. Pope Francis has indicated that he would rather remain in Rome, working on his campaign to reform the Holy See.
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The gorgeous estate includes ornamental gardens, terraces with views of the sea, the remains of an imperial Roman villa built by the Emperor Domitian along with a small farm. The area has a herd of cows that supply milk and butter to the papal dining table.
Eggs, olives and honey are also raised on the grounds, some of which is sold in a supermarket in the Vatican City State.
The suggestion to make these seldom used grounds open to the public is in line to the personable style of Pope Francis. The pontiff has called on bishops and priests to reach out more to ordinary Catholics and to engage with the "periphery" of society. In his brief time as the leader of the Catholic Church, the pope has ordered that the clergy be more accessible to the general public.
The gardens, beginning this week, will be open every morning from Monday to Saturday, with tickets costing 26 Euros per person.
Guided visits in Italian, English and other languages can be booked through the Web site of the Vatican Museums.
Antonio Paolucci, the director of the Vatican Museums, said that "it was Pope Francis himself" who decided that the gardens should be enjoyed by ordinary people.
Visitors to the garden will be able to walk through the giant covered passageway where the emperor and his retainers would amble after dinner. Popes escaping the summer heat and chaos of Rome was established by Pope Clement VII in the 16th century.
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