Image: Pope Benedict XVI
Alessia Giuliani  /  AFP - Getty Images
Pope Benedict XVI waves at the faithful as he arrives Monday in Lorenzago di Cadore.
updated 7/9/2007 8:49:58 PM ET 2007-07-10T00:49:58

Pope Benedict XVI said Monday he plans to use his nearly three-week-long vacation in the Italian mountains to write a new book and said he was also preparing a new encyclical.

Benedict spoke briefly to reporters as he arrived at a church-owned villa in Lorenzago di Cadore, in the mountains near Italy's border with Austria. He said he hopes to work on the second volume of the book "Jesus of Nazareth." The first volume was published earlier this year.

"It's in God's hands," he said. "I hope to write some pages here."

The first volume, Benedict's first book as pontiff, offers a personal meditation on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The second volume is expected to explore the birth of Christ, his crucifixion and resurrection.

Benedict was asked if he would use his time in between hikes through the mountains to also prepare a new encyclical. He laughed in response but said, "Yes, eventually."

Encyclicals are the most authoritative documents popes can issue. Benedict has only written one to date: "God is Love," an exploration of love and charity that focused on the different types of love _ erotic and unconditional _ that Benedict says are joined in marriage between man and woman.

'Hope and pray'
The vacation comes after a busy few weeks for the 80-year-old pontiff. Over the weekend, he issued his eagerly expected document liberalizing the old Latin Mass, and a week before that he issued a letter to the Catholic faithful in China, urging them to unite.

On his first full day of vacation, another important document will be issued as well, this one from his old office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

As he arrived during a break in thunderstorms, the pope was also asked if he was thinking of the Rev. Giancarlo Bossi, an Italian missionary kidnapped in the Philippines. Benedict said the priest, seized by gunmen in the southern Mindanao region on June 10, was in his daily prayers.

"We hope and pray that the Lord helps us," he said.

Pope John Paul II frequently visited the home in the Dolomite mountains, although in his later years he moved west, to the Alps close to Italy's border with France. Benedict spent his first two summers as pope at that retreat in Valle D'Aosta, but this year he chose to come to Lorenzago, which had not hosted a pope since 1998.

'Far from the city'
Benedict said he was glad to be in the mountains "far from the city and all the things that go on every day."

"I can rest, study and pray," he said.

He can also play the piano. The house where he is staying has been recently renovated _ and it has been outfitted with a baby grand piano. Benedict is an accomplished pianist; his favorite composer is Mozart.

Benedict's vacation here continues until July 27, after which he moves to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, in the hills south of Rome. While here, he will have two public appearances to recite his traditional Sunday noon blessings.

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