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Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

"My heart beats Bavarian"

Motto:  "Co-worker of Truth"

265th Pontiff

April 19, 2005 to Present

8th German pope

54th non-Italian pope 

Catholic News - Pope Benedict XVI German Postage Stamp

Pope Benedict XVI Pilgrimage to America

Pope Benedict XVI Coat of Arms

Pope Benedict XVI Messages

My Cousin the Pope

Vatican and Catholic Pontiffs

Pope Benedict XVI on Maltese stamp

Pope Benedict XVI installed 580 square feet of donated solar panels on his home in Regensburg, Germany, a home he designed.  No Church funds were used.

Pope Benedict XVI installed 580 square feet of donated solar panels on his home in Regensburg, Germany, a home he designed.  No Church funds were used.  The solar panels are expected to generate 6 megawatts of electricity saving 11 barrels of oil and resulting in $3,500 of excess energy being sold to the German grid annually. Any profit from the sale of excess energy to the German grid will be used for vocational training for at-risk youth.

During 2009 Pope Benedict XVI granted 200 private audiences, met with 300 bishops, and celebrated 50 major liturgies.

Pope Benedict XVI birthplace

House where Pope Benedict XVI was born in Marktl am Inn, Germany, on April 16, 1927

According to the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, citing archival documents, the above advertisements were placed by 43-year-old Joseph Ratzinger, Sr.  Maria Peintner responded to the advertisement, and the pope's parents were married on November 9, 1920.  According to Altöttinger Liebfrauenbote, Pope Benedict XVI is still a subscriber.

March, 1920, advertisement in Bavarian diocesan newspaper Altöttinger Liebfrauenbote (Altötting Messenger of Our Dear Lady):

"...low-level civil servant" seeks "a good Catholic girl who can cook and sew a bit...to marry as soon as possible, preferably with a picture."

Another translation:  "Lower-level state civil servant, unmarried, cath. 43 yrs, with pension entitlement, seeks good cath. girl who can cook and also sew a little, with trousseau and a little wealth, for marriage as soon as possible."

July, 1920, advertisement in Altöttinger Liebfrauenbote:

"...middle-level civil servant" with "irreproachable past" seeks "a good Catholic girl, who can cook and sew a bit...to marry as soon as possible, preferably with a picture." The advertisement said it was "desirable" that his bride have some money, but it was "not a condition" of marriage.

Another translation: "Middle ranking civil servant, single, Catholic, 43-years-old, immaculate past, from the countryside, is seeking a good Catholic pure girl, who can cook well, and who can do all housework, who is also capable of sewing and a good homemaker in order to marry at the soonest opportunity.  Personal fortune would be desirable but is not however a precondition."

Pope Benedict XVI was born Joseph Alois Ratzinger on April 16, 1927, in the above house in Marktl am Inn, Germany, a 77% Catholic Bavarian town near the Austrian border and lived here until he was two years old.  Pope Benedict XVI's 1745 house is at the end of Main Street and was once lived in by Johann Georg Lankensperger who invented the maneuverable front axle in 1816.  The owner said upon hearing of Pope Benedict XVI's election, "Oh my! Now I have to take a vacation day and fix up the house!"  The house has since been deeded to the Archdiocese of Munich which has opened the house to the public.

Weideneder Brau Vertriebs GmbH, a family-owned brewery in nearby Tann, Germany, has created a special brew called Pabstbier/Pope Beer.  The label reads, "Dedicated to the Great Son of our Homeland, Pope Benedict XVI."  The tavern owner across the street from Pope Benedict XVI's homestead is very happy.

Pope Benedict XVI Family Portrait

Pope Benedict XVI was the youngest of three children whose father, Joseph Sr., was a police officer.  His brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, is a retired priest who was Music Director at Regensburg Cathedral until 1994, and his sister, Maria, was Pope Benedict XVI's housekeeper until her death at age 69 on November 2, 1991. Pope Benedict XVI's mother's maiden name was Maria Peintner. Mr. and Mrs. Ratzinger and Maria Ratzinger are buried in Ziegetsdorf Cemetery in Pentling, Germany.  The Pope and Monsignor Ratzinger visited their parents and sister's graves on Wednesday, September 13, 2006.  A photograph of Mr. Ratzinger as a police officer hangs on the wall in the above photograph.

Pope Benedict XVI and his brother Monsignor Georg RatzingerOn August 21, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI's brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, was made an honorary citizen of Castel Gandolfo, the pope's summer residence, for his 84th birthday.  "From the beginning of my life my brother has always been, not only a companion for me, but a trustworthy guide, a point of reference with the clarity and determination of his decisions.  He showed me the road to take even in difficult situations.  We have arrived at the last stage of our lives, at old age, and the days left to live grow progressively fewer, but even at this stage as well, my brother helps me to accept with serenity, humility, and courage the weight of each day.  For this, I thank him."   Monsignor Ratzinger lives in Regensburg, Germany, and spends summers with the pope.

Pope Benedict XVI in the German Armn dur World War II

In 1945 during World War II, Pope Benedict XVI deserted from the German army and was a United States prisoner of war. 

Monsignor Georg Ratzinger explained, "The State ordered all school age kids, according to their age, to be signed up for certain youth groups.  It was obligatory.  We were registered as a block. There was no freedom to choose, and not showing up would have brought very negative consequences."  Monsignor Ratzinger said Pope Benedict XVI did not attend Hitler Youth meetings.

Pope Benedict XVI's father said Nazism was, "a catastrophe and not only the great enemy of the Church but also of all faiths and of human life in general."

Pope Benedict XVI Ordination

Pope Benedict XVI (first from right) was ordained a priest on June 29, 1951, and proclaimed cardinal on June 27, 1977 by Pope Paul VI.

Professor Joseph Ratzinger

Before becoming pope, Pope Benedict XVI was a theologyCardinal Joseph Ratzinger Coat of Arms professor at the University of Regensburg, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Dean of the College of Cardinals. His 1953 doctoral thesis was entitled, The People and House of God in Saint Augustine’s Doctrine of the Church. Cardinal Ratzinger made retreats at Roman Benedictine monasteries. 

After purchasing his land, Pope Benedict XVI designed his home in Pentling to include a chapel.  Pope Benedict XVI could walk from his home in Pentling to his teaching duties at Regensburg University in Regensburg, Germany.

Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI had weekly 90-minute meetings.

Pope John Paul II called Cardinal Ratzinger to the Vatican in 1981, and Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II had weekly 90-minute meetings followed by lunch.  The two spoke in German.

Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican Library and Archives

On a visit to the Vatican library, Pope Benedict XVI said wistfully: "At the end of my 70th year of age, I would have liked it very much if the beloved Pope John Paul II would have allowed me to dedicate myself to the study and research of the interesting documents and items you carefully safeguard.  The Lord had other plans for me, and here I am among you, not as a passionate scholar of ancient texts, but as the pastor called to encourage all the faithful to cooperate for the salvation of the world.  Each one does God's will where He places us to work."

Pope Benedict XVI chose the name Benedict after Saint Benedict of Norcia, Patron Saint of Italy, who founded the monastic Rule in the sixth century. "He represents a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe and a strong reminder of the unrenounceable Christian roots of its culture and civilization," said Pope Benedict XVI.

Shrine of the Virgin of the Guard at the VaticanShrine of the Virgin of the Guard, in the mountains overlooking Genoa, Italy, was replicated at the Vatican (picture) by Pope Benedict XV who was from Genoa.  "I myself pray every day in front of that statue," said Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope Benedict XVI's email addresses:

English:  benedictxvi@vatican.va

Italian:  benedettoxvi@vatican.va

Spanish:  benedictoxvi@vatican.va

French:  benoitxvi@vatican.va

German:  benediktxvi@vatican.va

Portuguese:  bentoxvi@vatican.va

Pope Benedict XVI is fluent in German, English, Italian, French, and Spanish and has knowledge of Portuguese.  Pope Benedict XVI can also speak classical Latin. 

Although the pope reads several languages, the email addresses are different because the email messages are screened by the pope's assistants who may only read in the language of the email.  The assistants forward a synopsis of the email or the full email onto the pope or answer the email themselves whichever is appropriate.

Cardinal Ratzinger at the piano

Cardinal Ratzinger at the piano

Pope Benedict XVI relaxes by playing the piano for a half hour each evening and listening to Mozart and Bach usually daily.  Of Mozart, Pope Benedict XVI said, “His music is by no means just entertainment.  It contains the whole tragedy of human existence.”  Pope Benedict XVI said that Mozart “thoroughly penetrated” his soul in his growing-up years in the 1920s and 1930s in rural Bavaria, near Salzburg, Austria, Mozart’s birthplace.

Pope Benedict XVI is concerned about the welfare of animals.  "That is a very serious question. At any rate, we can see that they are given into our care, that we cannot just do whatever we want with them. Animals, too, are God's creatures . . . Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible," said Pope Benedict XVI.

Catholic Beatle Paul McCartney praised Pope Benedict XVI's strong stand against cruelty to animals, including factory farming.  "God bless him. That certainly is a basic tenet of the Catholic religion."

Monsignor Georg Ratzinger described Pope Benedict XVI's childhood:  "I remember him as always being joyful.  From that time he showed a great sensitivity to animals, flowers, and in general to all nature. Perhaps that's why he was always given pets as Christmas gifts. His care for nature and for living beings was characteristic of him."

Pope Benedict XVI is a cat lover who has two cats, but no pets are allowed in the Apostolic Palace.  One of his cats Pope Benedict XVI found as a stray in Rome.  The Vatican isn't saying whether Pope Benedict XVI brought his cats with him to live at the Vatican.

When Pope Benedict XVI visited his house in Pentling, Germany, September 13, 2006, Rubert Hofbauer, the pope's next door neighbor, who cares for the pope's house now that the Holy Father is in Vatican City, set the pope's table with several jars of honey from the bees Mr. Hofbauer keeps in the pope's garden.  "I know he misses his house dearly, and he told me so when I visited him in Rome.  He asked after his garden, the flowers, even the bees, and after our two animals, Chico, the cat, and Igor, the Golden Retriever."  Chico visited Pope Benedict XVI often when the pope lived in his Pentling, Germany, home.  Chico has written a children's book about his relationship with Pope Benedict XVI. 

Joseph and Chico: The Life of Pope Benedict XVI As Told By A CatJoseph and Chico: The Life of Pope Benedict XVI As Told By A Cat is a book for elementary school children which tells the story of the life of Pope Benedict XVI when he was growing up in Bavaria, Germany.  The story is told by Pope Benedict XVI's next-door neighbor in Pentling, Germany, Chico, the cat, who would visit Pope Benedict XVI often.  Pope Benedict XVI is a cat lover who fed stray cats in Rome and brought one Roman stray cat home with him when he was a cardinal.  The Vatican doesn't allow animals, but when asked whether Pope Benedict XVI brought his two cats with him when he moved into the Vatican, the Vatican had no comment.  The Introduction is by Monsignor Georg Gänswein, Pope Benedict XVI's personal secretary.

Chico and Joseph: A Cat Recounts the Life of Pope Benedict XVI

European book cover

While in Australia for World Youth Day 2008, Pope Benedict XVI, an animal lover, petted a koala bear and scratched behind its ears.  The pope also saw a wallaby, a baby crocodile and a spiky echidna, all animals native to Australia brought to the pope from the Taronga Zoo.

What does Pope Benedict XVI miss from Bavaria?  Adelholzener fruit nectar, Bavarian sausage from Franziskaner, his favorite restaurant, Advent wreaths, and Bavarian Christmas trees.  His long-time friend, Munich banker Thaddaeus Joseph Kuehnel, loads up his car with Pope Benedict XVI's favorites and drives to Rome. "My best driving record was eight hours, now it takes me 10."

Mozzarella cheese

Mozzarella cheese

Pope Benedict XVI loves mozzarella cheese made from buffalo milk which is sent by the bishops in the Campania region of Italy as a gift to the pope.  The Campania region is said to produce the best buffalo mozzarella.  Usually mozzarella is made from cow's milk.

Pope Benedict XVI still has the stuffed animals his mother made for him when he was a child.  Pope Benedict XVI's favorite meal is Bavarian potato ravioli with pancake strips.

Aschau am Inn, a town east of Munich in Bavaria, Germany, made Pope Benedict XVI an honorary citizen. The Holy Father moved to Aschau am Inn in 1932 when he was five years old, attended school there until 1937 when his father retired, made his First Holy Communion in Aschau Am Inn, and remembered bike rides with his mother, and helping neighbors herd cows. The pope told the town mayor and former classmates and friends who attended the ceremony at a private audience on October 4, 2006, in Pope Paul VI Hall that he greatly appreciated the honor and still considers Aschau am Inn his home.

4 million people were in attendance at Pope Benedict XVI's audiences, Masses and other celebrations during his first year as pontiff.

Pope Benedict XVI's red shoesAdriano Stefanelli, an Italian cobbler in Novara, Italy, makes Pope Benedict XVI's red shoes from calf or kid leather for the winter and from nappa leather for the summer.  Antonio Arellano, a Peruvian shoemaker in Borgo, the medieval quarter next to Saint Peter's Square, repairs Pope Benedict XVI's shoes.

German firm Schildkroet, and Offermann doll hospital, have created a 16-inch doll of Pope Benedict XVI wearing white papal vestments.  "Its arms and legs can be moved, and its clothes are of a high quality and correspond exactly to the originals of the Holy Father," said Schildkroet. Only 999 dolls have been produced, are numbered, and sell for €139.

Monsignor Georg Gänswein, Pope Benedict XVI's personal secretary, said the German pope is overwelmed by the affectionate nature of the Italian language, but he is learning to be responsive, including talking with his hands.

Fun Fact about Pope Benedict XVI:  Pope Benedict XVI has a pilot's license for the papal helicopter and likes to fly from the Vatican to the papal summer residence, Castel Gandolfo, but the pope does not have a driver's license as he never learned to drive a car.  In Germany, the costs for driver's education and driver's license fees are in the thousands of euros, so the pope decided to walk.

Pope Benedict XVI said organ donation is "an act of love," and he carries his donar card with him at all times.

Pope Benedict XVI on prejudice: "Tragically, cultural and ethnic differences throughout history have not infrequently been a source of misunderstanding and friction.  The family home is where children learn the essential values of responsibility and harmonious coexistence. It is here too that prejudices are either born or broken. Every parent therefore has the grave duty to instill in their children, through example, respect for the dignity that marks every person regardless of ethnicity, religion, or social grouping."

In speaking to a gathering of 400 priests, Pope Benedict XVI said, "I used to be stricter."  The pope said he now gravitates more to Christ's mercy.

L'Osservatore Romano
Catholic News - Pope Benedict XVI 80th Birthday Cake

Pope Benedict XVI 80th birthday cake at the Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI blow out birthday candle on top of his White House cake for his 81st birthday on April 16

Pope Benedict XVI's 81st birthday cake at the White House in Washington, D. C.

L'Osservatore Romano
Pope Benedict XVI's 83rd birthday cake at the Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI's 83rd birthday cake at the Vatican

L'Osservatore Romano
Pope Benedict XVI cruises in Sydney Harbor during World Youth Day 2008

Pope Benedict XVI cruises in Sydney Harbor during World Youth Day 2008

Giancarlo Giuliani/CPP
Church of Santo Spirito in Bressanone, Italy, where Pope Benedict XVI will spend his summer vacation from July 28 to August 11.

Church of Santo Spirito in Bressanone, Italy, where Pope Benedict XVI spent his 2008 summer vacation.  Pope Benedict XVI vacationed in the German-speaking alps in the northern Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige in the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone from July 28 to August 11, 2008.

L'Osservatore Romano
Catholic News - Pope Benedict XVI greeting the faithful while on vacation in Bressanone, Italy, in the Alpine Mountains

Pope Benedict XVI greets the faithful while on vacation in Bressanone in the Alpine Mountains of northern Italy in July, 2008

L'Osservatore Romano
Catholic News - Pope Benedict XVI is vacationing in Bressanone, a German speaking Alpine village in northern Italy that once belonged to Austria.  Seated to the pope's right is his brother Father Georg Ratzinger and seated to the pope's left is his secretary, Father Georg Gaenswein.  The pope is on vacation in Bressanone from August 3 to August 11.

Pope Benedict XVI vacationing in July, 2008, Bressanone, a German speaking Alpine village in northern Italy that once belonged to Austria.  Seated to the pope's right is his brother Father Georg Ratzinger and seated to the pope's left is his secretary, Father Georg Gaenswein. 

L'Osservatore Romano
Pope Benedict XVI and his brother Monsignor Georg Ratzinger vacation in the Italian Alps

Pope Benedict XVI and his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, vacation in the Italian Alps

L'Osservatore Romano
Upon visiting the hamlet of Oies in the Alps, the birthplace of Saint Joseph Freinademetz who was a missionary to China, Pope Benedict XVI said of China, "It is important for this great country to open itself to the Gospel."

Upon visiting the hamlet of Oies in the Alps, the birthplace of Saint Joseph Freinademetz who was a missionary to China, Pope Benedict XVI said of China, "It is important for this great country to open itself to the Gospel."

Alessia Giuliani/Catholic Press
Sunday, January 25, general audience

Sunday, January 25, general audience

Redemptorist Office of Mission Advancement
On behalf of the United States, President Barack Obama presents this Redemptionist Saint John Newmann, Philadelphia bishop from 1852 to 1860, stole to Pope Benedict XVI

On behalf of the United States, President Barack Obama presented this Redemptionist Saint John Neumann, Archdiocese of Philadelphia bishop from 1852 to 1860, stole to Pope Benedict XVI during the president's Friday, July 10, audience with the pope.  Pope Benedict XVI gave President Obama a mosaic of Saint Peter's, his fifth anniversary medal, and an autographed copy of the encyclical Caritas in Veritate.

L'Osservatore Romano
Catholic News - Pope Benedict XVI thanks staff as he leaves hospital with a broken wrist

Pope Benedict XVI thanks staff as he leaves hospital with a broken wrist.  The pope had two metal pins inserted into his wrist bone after a nighttime fall in his bedroom while on vacation in the Alps. 

L'Osservatore Romano
Pope Benedict XVI wrist in cast

"Some suffering is not a bad thing," said Pope Benedict XVI.

L'Osservatore Romano
Pope Benedict XVI broken wrist

"Unfortunately my own guardian angel did not prevent my injury, certainly following superior orders.  Perhaps the Lord wanted to teach me more patience and humility, give me more time for prayer and meditation," said Pope Benedict XVI regarding his fall which resulted in a broken wrist.

L'Osservatore Romano
Catholic News - Pope Benedict XVI returns to his Alpine chalet after his right wrist was set in a cast

Pope Benedict XVI returns to his Alpine chalet after his right wrist was set in a cast.

On April 17 and 18, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI spent 27 hours in Malta to celebrate the 1,950th anniversary of Saint Paul's shipwreck on the Island of Malta and the beginning of Christianity in Malta. "Life's shipwrecks can be part of God's plan for us, and they may also be useful for new beginnings in our lives," said Pope Benedict XVI. While in Malta, Pope Benedict XVI met with, and cried with, abuse victims.  Malta has a population of 443,000, 95% of whom are Catholic.  On April 18, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated an open-air Mass in Floriana, Malta, and met with young people in the Port of Valletta.  The pope also met with the bishops and Maltese President George Abela.

Pope Benedict XVI Pilgrimage to  America

Pope Benedict XVI Coat of Arms

My Cousin the Pope

Pope Benedict XVI Messages

Vatican and Catholic Pontiffs

 

 

 

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