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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis begins spiritual retreat

Pope Francis is now taking part in his Lenten retreat. He arrived to Ariccia on Sunday along with 82 members of the Roman Curia. - How are you? - Fine. He was the first one to get out of the bus and was greeted by archbishop Angelo Becciu, who holds the number three post at the Vatican. By his side stood the Roman parish priest who is leading the spiritual exercises, Angelo De Donatis, and the Superior of the Society of St. Paul, Silvio Sassi.         - Welcome, Holy Father, welcome. Make yourself at home. - We've met in Buenos Aires. - Yes.   The retreat started off with a meditation on the topic 'The Purification of the Heart.'     â?¦ So, let's ask for it, beg for it. Let's ask the Lord to convert our hearts.     Pope Francis sat among the rest just like any other, without his papal hat. He traveled without personal assitants and won't have any audience or meetings until he's back in Rome, on March 14th.           Every day he celebrates Mass at 07:30 am, attends two daily meditations, a Eucharist prayer and vespers. Lunch breaks are at 8:30, 12:30 and 07:30 pm. All Cardinals and bishops paid their own expenses.       The place where they're staying is called 'Divin Maestro,' and is run by the religious of the Pauline family. It's located in Ariccia, 18 miles southeast from the Vatican and only 15 minutes away from Castelgandolfo.       JRB/PM CTV VM -BN Up:KLH #Papa