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Vatican children's book reveals "the mystery of the Pope"
- Vatican City
- December 14, 2012
A children's book that details the relationship between Pope Benedict XVI and his fish pond has been described as a window into his soul.
The book, which has been released on the same day that the Pope sent out his first tweet, has been published by the Vatican.
"The Mystery of the Little Pond" tells the story of a young goldfish and his fondness for "the man in white" who feeds him bread during the summer months when Benedict stays at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo near Rome.
"You can discover the Holy Father's soul in this pond," Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, the head of the papal household and personal secretary to the nature-loving pope, said at a presentation of the book near St Peter's Square.
"The message is between the lines. I recommend parents read this book aloud to their children and they will discover the mystery of the pope," he said.
The 24-page book is by Russian-born Natalia Tsarkova, the official portrait artist of the Vatican, who wrote the text and painted the illustrations.
The back cover of the book, which is currently only available in Italian, features a photograph of the pope feeding the fish at the pond.
The pond, which is set in some ancient Roman ruins on the grounds of the palace, also features a statue of the Virgin Mary - described by the goldfish in the book as "a very important woman" when he sees her reflection.
The book has been endorsed by Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, and Saverio Petrillo, the manager of Castel Gandolfo, who said the peaceful pond had been a place of prayer for several past popes.
Petrillo said John Paul II in particular was fond of the place but not all of Benedict's predecessors showed the same love for animals as Benedict - Paul VI (1963-1978) had to be persuaded not to eat the frogs from the pond.
Source: The Telegraph