Stamp Sheet Commemorates Pope Benedict’s 85th Birthday
On April 16, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI began his 85th birthday celebration by delivering mass. During the mass, he said, “I am facing the final leg of the path of my life and I don't know what's ahead… I know though that God's light is there ... and that his light is stronger than every darkness.”
Later in the day, the Pope went to the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, where he was joined by 150 Bavarians, including Bishops, political leaders, and representatives of the area’s Protestant and Jewish communities. A group of 10 children dressed in traditional Bavarian clothes danced for the Pope and recited a poem. There were also Bavarian musicians who performed a song that he had once sung with his siblings as a child while his father played a zither. Fittingly, the Pope was joined at the celebration by his brother, Monsignor Greg Ratzinger, who was ordained on the same day in 1951.
Overwhelmed with emotion at the performances, Benedict stated that the people there “represent[ed] for me the stations of my life.” He also added that the Jewish community in Bavaria helped to bring him closer emotionally to the Jewish people.
In the Pope’s hometown of Marktl Am Inn, many of his followers woke at 4:15 a.m. (the time of his birth) and walked from his house to the local church to pray. Among the many gifts he received that day were a large crucifix, Maypole, traditional Bavarian Easter Basket, and a book of 20 essays by prominent Germans about the papacy.