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Pope Benedict quietly celebrates 85th birthday

April 16, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his 85th birthday quietly on April 16, with a Mass of thanksgiving and a reception for bishops and pilgrims from his native Bavaria.

"I am facing the final leg of my life's path and I don't know what's ahead," the Pontiff said during his homily. Before the Mass, which was concelebrated by many of the prelates at the Vatican, Cardinal Angelo Sodano had congratulated the Pope. Speaking on behalf of the College of Cardinals, of which he is the dean, Cardinal Sodano said: “Holy "Holy Father, may the Lord continue to remain at your side.” Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, the Pope’s older brother, was visiting during the weekend and joined in the birthday festivities. During the day the Pope met with a group from Bavaria, who entertained him with singing and dancing.

The landmark birthday, along with the fact that Pope Benedict is now among the oldest men to serve as Roman Pontiff in recorded history, has sparked a new round of speculative stories about the possibility that he might resign. But although his age often shows--in frequent fatigue and in an increasingly stiff gait, which requires him to use a cane occasionally--Pope Benedict has given no indication that he is having difficulty carrying out his duties, or that he is considering retirement. In fact, at a public audience on the day before his birthday he asked the faithful to "pray for me, that the Lord may give me the strength to carry out the mission with which He has entrusted me.”

The Pope’s birthday was observed as a holiday at the Vatican. Later this week, on April 19, the Vatican will celebrate another special holiday: the 7th anniversary of the Pope’s election.


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  • Posted by: Pro Deo et Hibernia - Apr. 16, 2012 12:59 PM ET USA

    Ad multos annos! Vivat papam!