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Inside the VaticanFebruary 21, 2024
Pope Francis greets Austen Ivereigh, author of First Belong to God: A Retreat with Pope Francis, during the assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican's audience hall Oct. 16, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

This week, the Vatican is relatively quiet, as Pope Francis and the top Roman Curia officials make their Lenten retreat. As he has done since 2021, the pope has asked each official to make their retreat individually, centered on private prayer and spiritual exercises.

Austen Ivereigh’s latest book, First Belong to God: On Retreat with Pope Francis, helps all people of faith do just that. The author distills ten years of papal documents by Pope Francis, along with retreat talks he gave while serving as a Jesuit spiritual director in Argentina, into an eight-day Ignatian retreat covering key themes from Francis’ writings. He also shares how his decision to move to a small farm following the release of “Laudato Si’” helped him write the chapter titled “The Ecology of Mercy.”

An insightful commentator on the Francis papacy, Austen also shares his plans for his third biography of the present pope, focussed on the pope’s trajectory since the Covid-19 pandemic.

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