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Pope heading to Lenten retreat by bus

Spiritual exercises held outside Vatican in break with tradition

05 March, 15:01
Pope heading to Lenten retreat by bus (ANSA) - Vatican City, March 5 - Pope Francis will be heading to a Lenten retreat by bus, the Vatican said Wednesday. On Sunday, the pope and cardinals from the Curia, the Vatican bureaucracy, will carpool rather than arrive separately in Ariccia, a suburban hilltop town 16 miles from Rome for five days of spiritual exercises.

It is the first time a pope and his Curia are not spending the Lenten retreat on Vatican grounds.

Instead they will reside at the Casa Divin Maestro to partake in daily Mass and meditations. In a conversation with Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Francis commented that he decided to hold the retreat outside of the Vatican because "in the past they listened to three sermons daily and then some of them would go back to work". Invitation to the retreat was extended to Vatican department heads and their assistants. If they can not attend, other clergy can participate upon request. The pope's decision to travel by bus recalled when, just after being named pope, he waved off the 'solemn' pontifical car and insisted on going back to the cardinals' residence in a minibus with his former colleagues who had just elected him.

His repeated shunning of perks and pomp have earned him plaudits for attempting to follow the example set by the saint he took his name from.