As the Vatican got ready for the conclave, the remodeling of Benedict XVI's new residence was underway. From now on, he will live at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, located within Vatican territory.
Two months after he headed out to Castel Gandolfo, he comes back to the Vatican in a similar fashion, arriving by helicopter.
Upon his arrival, Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was waiting for Benedict XVI, along with Angelo Sodano who serves as the Dean of the College of Cardinals. Also there was the president of the Governorate of the Vatican City State, Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello.
As Benedict XVI made his way to the former monastery, Pope Francis was there, ready to welcome him back to the Vatican. They both went to pray in the chapel.
According to the Vatican's press release, Benedict XVI will serve the Church through prayer. He will live with his personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein who will also serve as the prefect of the Papal Household. Four consecrated lay women from the Communion and Liberation movement will also live there to help out with every day chores.
More than likely, Benedict XVI will be visited by his 88 year old brother Georg Ratzinger, who is his only living relative.
The Mater Ecclesiae was used as a monastery for 19 years. Before that, employees of the Vatican Radio lived there, including the director. The living area is about 650 feet. The actual residence of Benedict XVI will be on the floor level, so he doesn't have to go up and down the stairs. The four story building has a small garden.
For now Pope Francis will continue to live in the so called Casa Santa Marta which is a Vatican guest house. So the first Latin American Pope and Benedict XVI will live just a few meters away from each other. Despite having a Pope and a Pope emeritus living in the Vatican, ironically, the Papal apartment, to this day, remains empty.
CTV / MG