Today marks the 11-year anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s election as Pope, and the German retired Pontiff has reached out to thank those who have given him 89th birthday wishes on Saturday.
“Giving thanks for the good wishes sent on the occasion of his personal anniversary, the Pontiff Emeritus Benedict XVI returns every good wish and, in this Jubilee Year, accompanies all with his prayer and his blessing. Vatican City, April 19, 2016.”
This message was entrusted to the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation, as the Pope Emeritus’ thanksgiving for the very numerous expressions of good wishes he received.
In addition to the good wishes that arrived from all over the world, beginning from his Successor, Pope Francis, the Pope Emeritus was able to celebrate his birthday with a concert in the Assunta Hall of the Leo XIII Palazzina, given Benedict’s great love of classical music.
The Philharmonic Orchestra of Franciacorta played three of the string quartets that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart dedicated to his friend Franz Joseph Haydn. The Pope Emeritus’ older brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, who was 92 on January 15, also attended the event.
Last year, the Pope Emeritus quietly celebrated his birthday at Mater Ecclesiae monastery at the Vatican, where he lives a life of prayer and reflection following his resignation from the papacy.
During the flight from Rome to the Greek island of Lesbos on Saturday morning, Pope Francis told journalists, “I would like to remind you that today is Pope Benedict XVI’s 89th birthday. A prayer for him!” On the same day, the Holy Father also sent his predecessor birthday wishes via a telegram.