At the end of the month, Pope Benedict XVI will become the first pope to resign in roughly six centuries. That left us, and plenty of others, wondering: Where does a pope live when he’s no longer the pope? In this case at least, the answer appears to be somewhat unexciting. When his resignation becomes official, Benedict will start with a stay at Castel Gandolfo, a papal summer home in a small town outside of Rome. From there, he’ll eventually make his way back to the Vatican, where he’ll stay for—from the sounds of it—as long as he’d like.
Here’s how Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi’s explained the situation to reporters today:
Pope Benedict XVI will move to the Papal residence in Castel Gandolfo when his resignation shall become effective.
When renovation work on the monastery of cloistered nuns inside the Vatican is complete, the Holy Father will move there for a period of prayer and reflection.
It’s unclear exactly how long Benedict will remain at Castel Gandolfo. But from the description of it on the Vatican’s governmental website the residence is a good deal swankier than most temporary housing (the “Castel” part of its name probably should have given that away):
The properties which make up the villas include the Papal Palace (comprising also the Vatican Observatory), the Barberini Palace, apartment housing for 21 employees, an electrical plant, offices, farm buildings and animal stables. Also contained in the villas are buildings in the Villa Cybo set aside for the religious community of the Maestre Pie Filippini and their school, and two cloistered convents housing the Poor Clare and Basilian Nuns. In the piazza in front of the Papal Palace, the parish house assigned to the Salesians stands alongside the Pontifical Church of St Thomas of Villanova.
According to Lombardi, the pope will stay out of the conclave for the selection of his successor, though it should be noted that Benedict has selected over half of the cardinals who are eligible to pick the next pope.