John Paul takes three-hour hike in mountains
L’AQUILA, Italy (AP) _ Pope John Paul II took a three-hour hike in the rugged mountains north of L’Aquila Friday afternoon, Italian news agencies reported.
They said the 65-year-old pontiff returned to his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo south of Rome in the evening.
Vatican spokesman Giulio Nicolini refused to confirm the reports, saying only that John Paul was at Castel Gandolfo Friday night.
Police sources in L’Aquila, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the pope had arrived at the Gran Sasso area, probably by helicopter, ″but we didn’t know his itinerary.″
The Gran Sasso area, some 120 miles northeast of Rome, is at an elevation of around 3,300 feet and is noted for its national parks and skiing.
According to the news agencies, the pope, who has visited the area before to ski, took his walk surrounded by heavy security.
The Vatican, meanwhile, said John Paul would visit one of Kenya’s most popular wildlife viewing areas during his 12-day tour of seven African countries next month.
The official itinerary released Friday said the pontiff also would meet with youths in Morocco, beatify a nun in Zaire, consecrate Abidjan’s new Roman Catholic cathedral in the Ivory Coast, attend an African eucharistic congress and visit United Nations offices in Nairobi, and ordain priests in Togo.
It will be John Paul’s 27th trip abroad and the third to Africa since he became pope in 1978. In May 1980, he visited Zaire, Ghana, Congo, Kenya, Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) and the Ivory Coast. On the second trip in February 1982, he visited Gabon, Nigeria, Benin and Equatorial Guinea.
During his August trip, the pope will celebrate Mass and deliver up to 10 speeches per day.
The schedule shows the pope will visit Togo from Aug. 8-10, the Ivory Coast on Aug. 10, Cameroon from Aug. 10-14, the Central African Republic on Aug. 14, Zaire from Aug. 14-16, Kenya from Aug. 16-19 and Morocco from Aug. 19 before returning to Rome that night.
He is to spend the morning of Aug. 17 visiting the Masai Mara Park game reserve in southern Kenya.
In Moslem Morocco, the pope will confer with King Hassan and meet with youths in a stadium in Casablanca.