Benedict XVI ended his holiday in the Alps

Introd mayor Osvaldo Naudin speaks about Benedict's holiday this year.

Wlodzimierz Redzioch: - How did it happen that the newly elected Pope decided to spend his summer holiday in the village of Les Combes?

Osvaldo Naudin: - When after the death of John Paul II cardinals elected Cardinal Ratzinger the authorities of the region of Valle d'Aosta and Introd sent suitable wishes to the Pope. Afterwards, in agreement with the diocesan curia of Aosta, we also sent him an invitation to spend his holiday in our region. We asked the Pope to continue the tradition, which originated during the pontificate of his great predecessor. On the first days of June our Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi went to the Vatican for the meeting of the Italian Bishops Conference and a meeting with Benedict XVI. Then the Pope informed him that he had considered our invitation and was likely to come to Valle d'Aosta. We were all happy and we expected an official decision from the Vatican, which was sent to our curia.

- What were the preparations for the papal visit to Valle d'Aosta?

- From the year 2000 John Paul I lived in a new building, which was erected by the Salesians in co-operation with our district. This is a comfortable residence, which has a large, panoramic window and from the window there is a wonderful view of Mont Blanc and other Alpine peaks. In one word, the Pope's place was ready. We needed to clean the house and its surroundings. We did our best to repair the roads and a security fence around the papal villa. Everything was ready within a month to receive the Distinguished Guest. Before the Pope's holiday in Les Combes Msgr. Georg G(nswein, Benedict's secretary, and Dr Buzzonetti, papal doctor, came to us. Together with the bishop of Aosta we went for an inspection of the places the Holy Father was to stay. Although the weather was bad during the visit - it rained and it was foggy - the secretary was very satisfied and confirmed that the Pope would certainly come here on holiday.

- Did Benedict XVI have special requirements concerning his house or his stay in Les Combes?

- The Pope did not say any special wishes. He wanted to rest in quiet, pray and work. Introd's inhabitants are very discreet and nobody forces himself on our Guest. I got to know that the Pope appreciated such an attitude of the local people.

- You made a surprise for the Pope, a piano, so I'm told...

- When we waited for the Vatican's reply concerning the Holy Father's visit we were wondering how to prepare the papal holiday. We knew the Pope liked to play the piano and somebody proposed to try to get the instrument. Then we forgot about that. Several days before the Pope's visit we telephoned the Vatican and we were told that indeed the Pope would be pleased to have a piano. In a hurry we got the instrument and brought it to the house in Les Combes. But nobody thought about notes! Finally, we managed to get them. The idea with the piano was very good because I learnt that the Pope played the piano almost every day and it gave him great pleasure.

- Can you say today in what way John Paul II's holiday was different from that of Benedict XVI?

- These are two different personalities and one can see that in their ways of spending holiday. We got to know John Paul II very well since he came on holiday here 10 times. He was a real highlander who loved mountains from his youth. He was athletic and could ski well. We were impressed and we had a great sympathy for him. Whereas Benedict XVI must still discover our mountains. At first he went for short walks around the house and in the woods and mountain pastures. He very much likes everything we show him. I noticed he appreciated meeting people during his walks. I am convinced that after these several days in Valle d'Aosta he will be glad since our region can offer ideal conditions for rest and to admire wonderful nature.

- Finally I would like to ask what John Paul II, who visited you so many times, left behind?

- John Paul II loved our valley, its woods and mountains, which he could get to know well. He became our friend and we all will remember him in our hearts.

- Thank you for the conversation.

"Niedziela" 32/2005

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: