Pope Francis chooses guest room over luxurious papal apartments

Pope Francis continues to follow the example of his chosen namesake, declining the imperial trappings of the papacy in favor of a simpler lifestyle

L'Osservatore Romano / AP / File
The renovations on the palatial papal apartments are finished, but Pope Francis has decided to stay put in his two-room unit, including this bedroom and a sitting room for visitors, at the Vatican guesthouse.

Pope Francis wants to stay in a simple Vatican residence instead of moving into the spacious and regal papal apartments, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

The former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina is still living in the Domus Santa Marthae, a modern hotel-style residence inside the Vatican City where he stayed during the conclave that elected him on March 13.

Although the palatial papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace are ready — including more than a dozen luxurious rooms as well as quarters for staff and a terrace — he shows no desire to move in any time soon, said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi.

In the past few days, Francis has moved out of a single room in the guesthouse, which has some 130 rooms for visitors to the Vatican, into a 2-room unit so he could have more space to work and to receive people, Lombardi said.

Francis has set a more austere tone for the papacy than his predecessor Benedict XVI, who gained a reputation for sumptuous costumes. Lombardi says the new pope enjoys the residence's community atmosphere where he lives alongside other clergy.

The pope says Mass in its chapel every morning and invites Vatican workers and other guests to attend.

"I can't make long-term predictions, but for now it seems he is experimenting with this type of simple co-habitation," Lombardi said.

"It is still a period of getting used to things, of experimentation. Certainly in this phase he has expressed the desire to stay where he is," he said.

Lombardi said the pope will be using the offices in the Apostolic Palace and its grand, frescoed reception rooms to meet heads of state and delegations, and will continue to appear each Sunday to deliver a blessing from the window of the papal apartments overlooking St. Peter's Square.

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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