The gardens at the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo. Credit: EWTN News file photo.
Benedict XVI ate dinner, watched the news with Archbishop Georg Gänswein and slept soundly during his first night as a retired pontiff.
“We spoke with Archbishop Georg Gänswein this morning and he told us that both of them slept very well, had dinner and watched two Italian newscasts of the days events,” Vatican press office director Father Federico Lombardi said March 1.
“The Pope was immersed in the profound and beautiful expression of the people at Castel Gandolfo,” Fr. Lombardi told journalists at a daily briefing.
The Pope emeritus prayed Evening Prayer after dinner, read messages that people sent to him and took a walk through the halls of Castel Gandolfo.
Another activity that he is expected to take up is playing the piano. It emerged Feb. 28 that Benedict XVI had been playing the piano every evening after dinner in the weeks leading up to his resignation.
Fr. Lombardi noted “Benedict brought CDs of his favorite music and many books of theology, spirituality and history. And he will probably soon resume playing the piano.”
“He was very peaceful and he woke up very peacefully after having slept well,” said Fr. Lombardi. “He has shown a great interior serenity that was reflected in his face.”
He woke up this morning in time to celebrate Mass at 7:00 a.m., as he normally does, and at 4:00 p.m. he walked through Castel Gandolfo’s gardens praying the Rosary.
Archbishop Gänswein also reported that among the books Benedict XVI took with him was “Hans urs von Balthasar’s Theological Aesthetics,” which he bought as soon as it was released.
In 1988 then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger went to the funeral of von Balthasar, who is considered to be one of the most important theologians of the 20th century.
Benedict XVI will live at Castel Gandolfo until restoration work is finished at Mater Ecclesiae monastery, where he will be permanently living a life of prayer inside the Vatican walls.
The cardinals who will participate in helping choose the next pontiff will have their first official meetings March 4 at 9:30 a.m. and a second one at 5:00 p.m. at the Vatican’s New Synod Hall.
The date of the conclave is expected to be set soon after the meetings start.