Former pope Benedict has moved back to the Vatican in an unprecedented arrangement that will see a ruling pontiff and his predecessor live side-by-side as neighbors in the tiny state.
Pope Francis welcomed Benedict Thursday outside his new retirement home, which is a converted monastery near St. Peter’s Basilica. The two then went inside to pray together.
The low-key return for the 86-year-old pope emeritus was off-limits to all media except the Vatican’s own media service, which announced that it would not provide expected video coverage of the event.
The former pontiff had looked extremely frail at his last public appearance in March when Francis visited him at the papal retreat south of Rome. Benedict had been living there since he stepped down Feb. 28 and became the first pontiff to do so in hundreds of years.
Vatican officials say Benedict is only suffering from the normal ailments of old age.
Despite having two men clothed in white now living at the Vatican, the papal apartments remain empty. Pope Francis has chosen to remain in the more modest accommodation of the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta hotel, which hosted the cardinals during the papal conclave that elected him.