At 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon, the pope and other superiors of the Vatican Curia boarded this bus for Ariccia to begin their spiritual exercises.
This year's theme is the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, according to the Gospel of St. Matthew. The preacher of the exercises will be the Franciscan Giulio Michelini.
The pope and the other participants will begin each day by celebrating mass at 7:30 p.m. in the morning. They will attend two daily meditations, pray Vespers together, and end the day with Eucharistic adoration before dinner at 7:30 p.m. They are scheduled to return to Rome on Friday morning.
The tradition of the pope and the curia doing Lenten spiritual exercises was initiated by Pope Paul VI in 1964. Among the preachers, two of them ended up becoming pope: Karol Wojtyla in 1976, and Joseph Ratzinger in 1983.