- Title: Papal summer residence, shunned by Francis, opened to public
- Date: 21st October 2016
- Summary: CASTEL GANDOLFO, ITALY (OCTOBER 21, 2016) (REUTERS) PAPAL PRIVATE CHAPEL BY PAPAL BEDROOM PAPAL BEDROOM SEEN FROM PRIVATE CHAPEL BED IN PAPAL BEDROOM PAINTING OF MADONNA ABOVE THE BED DESKS IN PAPAL BEDROOM
- Embargoed: 5th November 2016 15:39
- Keywords: papal residence benedict pope apartments
- Location: CASTEL GANDOLFO, ITALY
- City: CASTEL GANDOLFO, ITALY
- Country: Italy
- Topics: Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA00154Y85LL
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: PLEASE NOTE, THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL
PLEASE NOTE, THIS EDIT CONTAINS MONOCHROME IMAGES
It may come as a surprise to most people, but about 40 children were born in the bedroom of the pope at the pontifical summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.
Now that bedroom, which became a makeshift delivery room when the residence housed refugees during World War II, and the rest of the papal apartments have been opened to the public as part of a museum.
The four-metre by seven-metre bedroom, with beige walls and light green curtains, has a small bed with a gold-plated head and foot and is adjacent to a private chapel.
Pius XII did not use the residence during World War Two so he ordered it open to area residents fleeing battles.
At least 12,000 people, including Jews, took refugee there in 1944 as the area was engulfed in fighting between the Allies and occupying Nazis.
Because it was the most private room, the pope's bedroom became a delivery room for several months in 1944. Pius XI's real name was Eugenio Pacelli and many of the some 40 children born there were named Eugenio or Eugenia by their parents.
Pius resumed spending summers there after the war and died in the same bedroom in 1958. Pope Paul VI also died in the room in 1978.
The frugal Pope Francis has decided not to use the villa - similar to but smaller than some of Europe's royal residences, judging it too luxurious and grandiose.
Locals hope the apartments, the final part of the estate to be open to the public over the past two years, will boost the tourist-based economy of this lakeside town, hurt by Francis' decision to stay at work in the Vatican and take no vacations.
And, while they understand Francis' motives, they are praying that the next pope will reverse the decision.
At 55 hectares, the residence, which includes several buildings, elaborate Renaissance-style gardens, a forest and a working dairy farm, is larger than Vatican City.
The Vatican has owned the estate since 1596. The first pope to use it as a summer residence was Urban VIII in the 17th century. About half of the some 30 popes since have used it to escape the heat of the Roman summer.
When the papal court moved here for months at a time, tourists followed, particularly on Sundays when the pope gave his blessing from the residence. Benedict XVI, who resigned in 2013, was the last to use it.
Seven large rooms house a papal portrait gallery and pontifical artefacts, such as intricately embroidered liturgical vestments, elaborate thrones going back hundreds of years, and several pairs of papal slippers, including those worn by Pope Pius V, who died in 1572.
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