Pope Honored by Grandmother's Birthplace

By Anne Kurian and Anita Bourdin

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ROME, NOV. 4, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The birthplace of Benedict XVI’s maternal grandmother and great grandmother is recognizing the Pope as an honorary citizen.

The Holy Father’s maternal grandmother and great grandmother were born in Naz-Sciaves (Natz-Schabs, in German), in the Italian region of Alto Adige.

At next week’s general audience, a delegation from Naz-Sciaves will arrive on pilgrimage in Rome to give the Pope the official certificate of honorary citizen.

The city of Naz-Sciaves, which has some 2,500 inhabitants, celebrated its new honorary citizen on Oct. 22. Bishop Ivo Muser of Bolzano and Bressanone presided at the blessing of a commemorative plaque on the “mas Toell” wall in the village of Rasa, where the Pope’s grandmother and great grandmother were born. The diocesan bishop also presided over a Eucharistic celebration.

In 2010, when the Christmas tree from Luzon was installed in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, the Holy Father told a group of pilgrims from Alto Adige that his grandmother and great grandmother were born in the village of Rasa.

Benedict XVI has been an honorary citizen of the city of Bressanone, which is situated five kilometers (3 miles) from the village of Rasa, since 2008. The city welcomed him during the summer vacation he spent in its seminary in August of that year.

The Pope’s brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, relates that their grandmother longed for her homeland until the end of her life. In his book “Mein Bruder, der Papst” (My Brother, the Pope), he says that their grandmother would say, “If a just had some water from my land, I would be cured.”

“She was convinced that the water of Tyrol was very different from Bavarian water,” he wrote. “She also thought that her small cabin full of Tyrolean hay was more nourishing for the livestock than a full cart of Bavarian hay. She was really a great Tyrolean patriot.”

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