04 September 2014, The Tablet

Wish he was here

Last weekend, the Pope sent a special blessing to the people of Castel Gandolfo to mark the festival celebrating their Madonna. But the town is suffering because Francis does not stay at his summer residence, and livelihoods are at risk Perched high above the waters of Lake Albano, 20 miles south of sweltering Rome, Castel Gandolfo has afforded generations of popes cause to give thanks. Many have made their mark on the papal summer retreat. While Pius XI converted orchards into a model farm to supply fresh produce, athletic John Paul II built a swimming pool in the grounds. But, in yet another departure from tradition, Pope Francis has shunned the sumptuous palace, visiting it just three times in his 16-month reign – with no overnight stays. Despite concerns for his health, and app
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