Holy Father's Birthday Marked by Bavarian Touch

Turning 85 Gave Benedict XVI a Chance to Go Home, at Least in Heart

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By Salvatore Cernuzio

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 18, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Every birthday is celebrated in a special way and on Monday the Holy Father also wished to celebrate his 85th birthday with a special gift.

At 12 noon, in fact, Benedict XVI received, in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, a numerous delegation from “his” Bavaria, led by Cardinal Reinhardt Marx, archbishop of Monaco and Freising, and by the Minister President of Bavaria, The Honorable Horst Seehofer.

It was a festive meeting in which the Pontiff received, with the music and songs of his native land, some 170 fellow countrymen, among whom was a group of 10 children dressed in traditional costumes, who performed the typical dances of the region.

In addition, the Pope received as a birthday gift a basket of typical products and a “May Tree”, painted in the colors of the Bavarian flag.

After taking part in the choir that intoned the “Hymn of Bavaria,” the Pope then gave a brief address in which, in addition to recalling his land, he thanked “one by one, in his heart” the guests and Cardinal Marx “for his dear words as Pastor of the diocese from which I come, in which I grew up and to which I always belong interiorly.”

Addressing the Honorable Seehofer, the Holy Father expressed his profound thanks for the Minister’s words, “through which he made the Christian and Catholic heart of Bavaria speak” and with which “he brought to the present all that was important in my life.”

A particular thank you went to the bishop of the Evangelical Church of Monaco of Bavaria and to the Jewish community, represented by Drs. Lamm and Snopkowski, whose cordial friendship “brought me interiorly close to the Jewish part of our people, present in me on the strength of memory.”

As in his recent trip to Mexico and Cuba, Pope Benedict XVI did not forget to mention the children, “in whom we recognize that Bavaria continues to be faithful to itself and precisely because of this remains young and progresses.”

Added to this was the music heard, which carried his mind to the “sounds of my childhood,” in particular of his father, who with the Zither, the typical Bavarian zither, sounded Gott grube Dich, “a sound that is also of the present and the future.”

“Vergelt’s Gott! May God then render merit!” was the Pontiff’s final wish, an expression that summarizes all the emotion and gratitude for this beautiful birthday celebration.

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