Pope Remembers His Mother's Stories

Named Honorary Citizen of His Grandmother’s Birthplace

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 9, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI today reminisced about the stories told him by his mother, as he was awarded honorary citizenship of a northern Italian town where his grandmother and great-grandmother were born.

At the end of today’s general audience, a delegation from Natz-Schabs (Naz-Siaves), located in the Italian province of Bolzano, conferred honorary citizenship upon the Pope. 

Benedict XVI’s great-grandmother, Elisabeth Maria Tauber, and his grandmother, Maria Tauber-Peintner, were both born in that town, respectively, in 1832 and 1855.

Vatican Radio reported the Holy Father’s words, which he gave completely without a script.

“South Tyrol is a special country and is rooted in my heart through the stories that I heard from my mother,” he said. “I never knew my great grandmother nor my grandmother — my grandmother died when I was 3 — but I heard many of her stories, above all that throughout her life, she was nostalgic for South Tyrol and never really integrated in Bavaria. During her last illness she said: ‘If only I could get a bucket of water from my homeland, I would surely be cured.'”

The 84-year-old Pontiff continued, “Thinking of this I am reminded of another little story. As a girl, my mother worked for a family from Kufstein, and there she made a friend, who then married a baker. I myself as a child even met him. He was kind to my mother and would often say: ‘Maretl you must remember one thing: the Tyrol was made by the angels!’ [dialect in the original]. And my mother kept this as a kind of testament that she then passed on to us. She was convinced, in her inner heart, that it was true.”

The Pontiff recalled that at age 13, he and his two siblings went on a cycling tour of the region, and, he said, “We could see that it was really true that it had been made by the angels.”

“Then, in the 50s,” he added, “I went to South Tyrol where I could feel the special closeness of God that is expressed in the beauty of these lands. But not only through Creation. It was beautiful because men have responded to God: if we think of the Gothic towers, the beautiful houses, the warmth and the kindness of people, the beautiful music, we know that men responded, and from this collaboration — between the Creator, his angels and men — a beautiful land was born, a land of extraordinary beauty. And I am proud and happy to be part of it, one way or another.”

Benedict XVI expressed his hopes that South Tyrol remain as it is, that “nature, creation and the life of men” continue to form “a single melody,” that faith is the “bearer of joy and help to overcome difficult situations.”

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