VATICAN CITY — Even the pope needs time to step back from his daily activities to spend more time in silence, solitude and prayer with God.
This year Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia will spend March 5-10 at the House of the Divine Master retreat center located in the medieval hillside town of Ariccia, Italy, just south of Rome.
The pope departed the Vatican by bus on Sunday after reciting the noonday Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
The Pope himself reminded the faithful of his annual retreat after praying the Angelus and asked them for prayers for himself and for his collaborators.
“Just a few days ago we began Lent, which is the journey of God’s people toward Easter: a journey of conversion, spiritual warfare against evil with the weapons of prayer, fasting and works of charity,” the pope said. “It is my hope that the Lenten journey will be fruitful for everyone; and I ask that you remember in your prayers me and my collaborators of the Roman Curia, who this evening will being a week of retreat. I thank you from the heart for your prayer.”
On Sunday, @pontifex also tweeted: “I ask, please, for your prayers for me and my collaborators who will be on retreat until Friday.”
Each day of the 5-day retreat will include moments of prayer, meditation, and Eucharistic Adoration.
This year the spiritual exercises will be led by Franciscan Friar, Fr. Giulio Michelini.
At the heart of this year’s meditations is the theme of the Passion, the Death and the Resurrection of Christ according to the Gospel of Matthew.
The exercises are traditionally conducted during the first week of Lent, and as always, all the Pope’s audiences, including Wednesday’s General Audience, are suspended.
The participants will return to the Vatican on Friday.