Two popes now living in Vatican

Vatican City, May 2 (EFE).- For the first time in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, starting Thursday two popes are living in the Vatican now that Benedict XVI has returned to the Holy See two months after resigning the pontificate.

Joseph Ratzinger, 86, since Feb. 28 had been living in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, and was received personally by Pope Francis at the doors of the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican gardens, which will now be the former pope's residence.

"Pope Francis welcomed him with great and brotherly cordiality. Afterwards, the two of them went to the monastery chapel to pray," said the Vatican in a communique.

Benedict XVI "is happy now to return to the Vatican, where he intends, as he himself said on Feb. 11, to devote himself to the service of the Church, in particular to prayer," said spokesman Federico Lombardi.

Ratzinger has no particular health problems other than minor ailments attributable to age, Lombardi said recently, refuting reports that the former pontiff was ill.

Francis and Benedict XVI have spoken on numerous occasions by telephone during the latter's stay at Castel Gandolfo and the current pope visited his predecessor there on March 23.

Ratzinger returned to the Vatican once rehabilitation work on the monastery - built 20 years ago at the request of Pope John Paul II - was completed.

The Mater Ecclesiae monastery stands just a few meters (yards) from the Santa Marta residence, where Pope Francis lives, and so - according to Vatican sources - it cannot be ruled out that the pair will maintain "frequent and discrete contact."