What Are Some Facts About Pope Benedict XVI?


Pope Benedict XVI's name is Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger and he was born in Germany on April 16, 1927.

Facts About Pope Benedict XVI

  • Joseph Ratzinger was born in Marktl in the German state of Bavaria.
  • His father was a police officer and his mother's family was originally from South Tyrol. His brother became a priest. His sister never married and managed his household until her death in 1991.
  • Joseph spent his teen years in Traunstein and was called at the age of 16 into the auxiliary anti-aircraft service towards the end of World War II.
  • He studied philosophy and religion at both the University of Munich and a school in Freising.
  • He was ordained as a priest on June 29, 1951 and awarded a Doctorate of Theology in 1953.
  • He began teaching fundamental theology four years later and taught from 1959 to 1969 at Freising, Bonn, Munster, and Tubinga.
  • In 1969, he returned to Bavaria and was the vice president of the University of Regensburg and a professor of dogmatic theology until 1977.

Activity in the Church

  • In 1962, he was a consultor to Cardinal Joseph Frings, the Archbishop of Cologne at Vatican Council II.
  • He wrote many essays and sermons about Christianity that were published in 1968 and 1973.
  • In 1977, he was elected Archbishop of Munich and Freising by Pope Paul VI.
  • He was appointed to the College of Cardinals that same year.
  • Cardinal Ratzinger became prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, president of the Biblical Commission, and also president of the Pontifical International Theological Commission in 1981.
  • In 1998, he was elected Vice Dean of the College of Cardinals and in 2002, he became the Dean of the College of Cardinals.

Another interesting fact about the work done by the future Pope Benedict XVI occurred while he was president of the Commission for the Preparation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He worked for six years on a new catechism that he gave to the Pope in 1992. He was one of the closest confidants of Pope John Paul II.


Selecting the New Pope

  • Pope Paul II died on April 2, 2005 and the search was on for his replacement.
  • Before he was elected pope, Cardinal Ratzinger had been named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.
  • His election came quickly during only the second day of the papal conclave on the fourth ballot.
  • He was officially the pope of the Catholic Church on April 19, 2005.
  • In his speech on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, he referred to himself as “a simple, humble laborer in the vineyard of the Lord.”
  • The way Pope Benedict XVI, picked his name is interesting. The name Benedict means “the blessed” and it was picked to honor both Pope Benedict XV and Saint Benedict of Nursia.
  • During World War I, Pope Benedict XV was pope and worked diligently for peace.
  • Saint Benedict of Nursia founded the Benedictine monasteries and wrote the Rule of Saint Benedict, which is one of the most influential books written about the monastic life.
  • He reinstated several papal garments including the red shoes and the red hat which was usually worn in winter.
  • He remained Pope until his resignation in 2013 after which he became pope emeritus. He continues to wear the white robes; but, he no longer wears the white shoulder cape, the red shoes or the Fisherman's Ring.

Other Facts About Pope Benedict

Here are a few more facts about Pope Benedict XVI:

  • Pope Benedict XVI was the oldest person to be elected pope since 1730.
  • He speaks fluent German, French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, and English.
  • He plays the piano and especially likes Beethoven and Mozart.
  • He has a pilot’s license and sometimes flies the papal helicopter to the summer residence. He never learned to drive a car.
  • He loves cats and has two of them. One was a stray he found in Rome.
  • His favorite meal is Bavarian potato ravioli with pancake strips.
  • He is the first pope to own an iPod.
  • He received a pacemaker while he was a cardinal.

So, now you know many fun facts about Pope Benedict XVI.