The Italian Almanac

Benedict XVI

Italian News - August 21

For those either gearing themselves up to return to the office or factory after a summer break or rushing to clear their desks before going away, the Pope yesterday had a message: don’t work too hard, it’s bad for the spirit.

Pope Benedict XVI, speaking at his summer residence at Castelgandolfo in the Alban Hills south of Rome, said that his strictures against overwork applied even to himself. Quoting from the writings of St Bernard of Clairvaux, the medieval saint, the pontiff said: “We have to guard ourselves, as St Bernard observed, against the dangers of excessive activity, regardless of the office one holds, because too many concerns can often lead to hardness of heart and suffering of the spirit.” Instead, people should put aside time for “prayer and contemplation”, he said.

Much of Italy yesterday began the annual “re-entry” after the mid-August holiday of Ferragosto, with airports crowded and traffic hold-ups at motorway toll booths. The 79-year-old Pope took a holiday in the Italian Alps in July before retreating to Castelgandolfo to escape the heat of Rome. He spent much of his mountain break, however, writing his next encyclical. He is to make a trip to his native Germany next month.