Benedict XVI to return to Vatican

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is expected to move into his new Vatican residence on Thursday 2 May, according to Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi.  

Benedict XVI has been staying at Castel Gandolfo, 25 km southeast of Rome, since he retired on 28 February. The reason for his two-month sojourn at the papal summer residence was to allow time for the Mater Eclessiae monastery in the Vatican Gardens to be converted into his new home.

His return to the Vatican will mean that for the first time in history, a retired pope and a serving pope – the newly-elected Francis – will both be resident in the world's smallest state. However Benedict XVI is to lead a quiet life of prayer and will have no role within the Roman Curia.

The retired pontiff will be assisted in his daily life by four consecrated women, members of Communion and Liberation (CL), a lay ecclesial movement within the Catholic Church which received strong papal support from the former pope as well as his predecessor Blessed John Paul II.

Benedict XVI will also be joined by his personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Gänswein, who continues his role as Prefect of the Pontifical Household.

In addition it is likely that Fr Georg Ratzinger, the elder brother and only living family member of the Pope Emeritus, will live in the residence.

Situated inside the Vatican walls, the monastery was built in the 1990s under the pontificate of John Paul II.