Joseph Ratzinger, now known as Pope Benedict XVI, was born on April 16, 1927 in the tiny village of Marktl-am-Inn in Bavaria, Germany, to Joseph Sr. and Maria Ratzinger. The youngest of three siblings, his birthdate and baptism fell on Holy Saturday—a sign, some say, of great things to come.
When he was the Pope and even now as the Pope Emeritus, Pope Benedict celebrates his birthday surrounded by his family and dearest friends. Whenever April 16 comes around, the special day is celebrated at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, which has been Pope Benedict’s home for several years now. The Memores Domini, the four consecrated laywomen who help him in his household and, Archbishop Georg prefect of the Papal Household, all make sure that the Pope Emeritus enjoys his birthday in the quiet, low-key manner that Pope Benedict has always preferred. On this day, he would also receive numerous messages of well-wishes from the Vatican Curia and from supporters all over the world—a sure sign of unwavering affection for him. Pope Francis usually offers a morning Mass to bless his predecessor.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s birthday celebrations are usually very intimate affairs. For example, on his 88th birthday, the Pope Emeritus had a small party at the gardens of Castel Gandolfo with his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, and a group Bavarians. He toasted his well-wishers with a pint of beer.
His 89th birthday, meanwhile, was a music-filled event. Together with his brother, Monsignor Georg, he attended a concert staged by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Franciacorta at the Vatican. The concert, held in his honor, played three of the six string quartets by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Pope Benedict’s favorite composer.
On his 90th birthday, the Pope Emeritus celebrated with a “Bavarian touch”—with cold beers and crunchy pretzels. “Thank you for bringing Bavaria here,” said Pope Benedict to his visitors. Pope Francis had personally greeted his predecessor a few days before.
The Swiss Guard paid him a visit and gave a performance in celebration of Pope Benedict’s 91st birthday with his brother, Monsignor Georg. Pope Francis offered his early morning mass for Pope Benedict.
As the Pope Emeritus turns 92 today, may he receive an outpouring of the Lord’s love and blessings. Join us as we say, “happy birthday, Pope Benedict!”