I had the good intention of starting this project in time for the 80th birthday, but then, any time is a good time. It is an attempt to present chronologically what pictures we have available on Joseph Ratzinger from the time he was born to the time he is named a cardinal in 1977. I use the cut-off simply because there are thousands of pictures of him as cardinal and we have barely scratched the surface ,so that's not as manageable as the more finite number of pictures before then.
However, please continue to post your contributions in our regular photo threads, and let me worry about re-posting them here, because I can go back any time to put or insert a picture in the right chronological order.
I will attempt to present a chronological account in pictures of Benedict XVI's life until the time he becomes
a cardinal in 1977. But let us start with what we know of his parents.
JOSEPH RATZINGER SR. AND MARIA PEINTNER
Last September, before the Pope visited Bavaria, the German newspaper BILD came out with the story that
Joseph Ratzinger, then a middle-aged policeman, had advertised in a Catholic magazine for a bride (see ad, right).
The newspaper also published these pictures
of Papino's parents in their youth:
Papa at age 20, and Mama's earliest known
The following pictures are from an article that Palma found, which tells
the history of the house where Joseph's mother was born on January 8, 1884,
and what it looks like today.
Maria's mother, also named Maria Peintner, apparently conceived
her out of wedlock, and she came from her town in Val Pusteria
in the southern Tyrol to Muehlbach in Bavaria, where the owner
of this house gave shelter to unwed mothers until they delivered.
The article also says the senior Maria Peintner had been born
out of wedlock herself.
A family picture of the Peintner-Riegers, and Maria, who would become
the future Pope's mother, is identified as the lady seated on the right.
It appears from a reconstruction done by a local researcher last year,
that Maria Peintner came to Rimsting as a 6-year-old but by now her mother
had married a baker named Rieger, with whom she had five more daughters
who were all born in Rimsting. It is not clear, but Rieger may have been
Maria's father as well, because the book refers to him as the 'Pope's
grandfather' who was apparently religious enough that he campaigned
successfully for Rimting to become a parish which it became in March 1906,
101 years ago.
I will post a summarized translation of the rest of the text from Palma,
as it consists of two articles related to the Pope's mother -
one about Muehlbach, the other about Rimting - and a third one
about his father, which is equally sketchy.
This is an undated picture of Joseph Ratzinger Sr.
The brief information provided comes from the city archives of Munich.
He was born in Passau in 1877 and apparently joined the local police force
in Passau in 1899. Then at age 25, he joined the Royal Bavarian Gendarmerie
Corps, which he served for the next 35 years.
During that time, he was assigned to 14 different posts, and it seems that
this was a practice followed in order to prevent the police officers
from establishing relations with special interests in the places where
Some of his assignments are mentioned: On July 1, 1911, he was transferred
from Koenigsee to Aibling; in 1915, he was sent to Ostermuenchen, then
Kolbermoor where he was promoted to deputy police chief (or its equivalent).
Next he was assigned to Soechtenau, where he served three months until
he was moved to Sauerlach which is now part of Munich.
Joseph Ratzinger's file contains a letter of permission from the Gendarmerie
Main Station in Altoetting dated October 29, 1920, granting Ratzinger
the "authorization to marry" his fiance Maria Rieger. They were married in
Pleiskirchen om November 9, 1920.
From the Mass card commemorating her death, we know Maria, their first
child, was born in Pleiskirchen. I do not recall reading anywhere were
Georg was born, certainly not in Marktl.
And this is as far as we have of our Joseph Ratzinger's pre-history.
I shall add and update to it as we get more information.
Just for orientation: