Invites leaders of Roman Curia to “withdraw in prayer” in a personal way.
Due to the pandemic, the customary Lenten retreat taken by the pope and the Roman Curia has been cancelled.
Pope Francis has instead encouraged the various leaders of the Vatican departments to “withdraw in prayer” at a personal level.
The pope’s activities during the week the retreat was scheduled (February 21-26) will still be suspended; for example, there will not be a Wednesday general audience on February 24.
Each year, the pope and his close collaborators participate in a week of spiritual exercises; since 2014, the retreat been held at the Casa Divin Maestro retreat house in Ariccia, which is about 16 miles south-east of Rome.
Last year, the Holy Father was unable to attend the retreat in person because he had a cold. He followed the meditations from the Vatican.
Pope Pius XI, pope from 1922 to 1939, started the practice of having a retreat with the leaders of the Roman Curia. The retreat was held over the decades at the Vatican, but Pope Francis made the decision to go away from the curia’s usual working space to have the days of prayer at a retreat house. A different retreat preacher is chosen by the pope each year.