POPE-POURRI: 'Light' news items, anecdotes about Pope Benedict now

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00Sunday, December 10, 2006 4:47 AM
And why not? Here's something from Il Mattino two days ago ....

By Paola Del Vecchio

The expression 'boccone del cardinale' (the cardinal's mouthful) has been used popularly for centuries to mean some sublime delicacy, something like the ambrosia of the gods.

But going from the divine to the human, who has not wanted to know what do Popes eat? Maybe the secret has been closely guarded because the Vatican does not want to encourage gluttony?

Eva Celada, a Spanish gastronomic columnist and researcher, has now written a book called "Secrets of the Vatican Kitchens" published in Spain - a survey of the culinary preferences of Peter's Successors after the Last Suppper.

Of course, she writes about the lavish Renaissance banquets and grand bouffes of the Borgia Popes, but she also takes us down to the last two Popes, with their very different tastes.

Benedict XVI, 'son of a professional cook,' has 'more refined tastes' but is abstemious. He loves fruit juices and sweets, and enjoys both Italian cuisine as well as his native Bavarian dishes - particularly its sausages and dumplings.

John Paul II, on the other hand, was 'more susceptible to quantity rather than quality', 'appreciated any good red wine, even without pedigree', and enjoyed having long after-dinner sessions around the dining table with many guests "with whom he spoke about everything" but upon whom a vow of secrecy was imposed.

Celada spent two years researching her book, 'going through the back door' to get her facts about the last two Popes.

One of her major sources is Sister Pia, who has directed the kitchen at Casa Santa Marta for over 20 years, as well as the other cooks in the Vatican.

The kitchen at Casa Santa Marta prepares many banquets for the Holy See,[ besides preparing meals for the rotating guests in the Vatican 'hotel' which John Paul II ordered constructed to house cardinal-participants in the papal conclave and provide lodgings for visiting prelates].

Benedict XVI, who wakes up early, has breakfast after daily Mass - it's caffelatte with something sweet, like his favorite apfelstrudel, which he also usually has for an afternoon snack after his siesta.

Given his maternal upbringing, he eats a 'very healthy diet' with fruit, fish and pasta as lunch staples. And he hardly has guests for meals, as is well known. He eats a light supper - usually soup and yogurt.

Papa Wojtyla ate heartier meals, with both Italian and Polish dishes. He liked risotto alla scampi as much as he liked his native bigos (stuffed cabbage). In his later years, his diet became lighter - soups, like Polish borscht, and fish. He drank tea for breakfast - 'he never drank coffee' - with bread and rose-petal jam, and yes, even apple pie.

These diets are far from the truffled lobsters and figs-and-caviar salad preferred by the Spanish Popes Callixtus II and Alexander VI, the Borgia Pope who was 'the most obese Pope ever to sit on Peter's Chair'. Nor the 'scandalous Renaissance banquets' sometimes celebrated in the open before the gaze of hungry onlookers.

Excesses apart, however, Celada's book shows that Vatican gastronomy is one of the most complex and richest in the world - 'much more so than that of royal houses' - and has contributed to universal cuisine such things like bechamel sauce, cooking with a double-boiler, panettone (raisin bread), and eggs Benedict with truffles.

[Celada should have asked Sister Pia if Benedict XVI ever eats eggs Benedict! I remember reading a pleasantry recently, in which B16 contemplates breakfast and asks himself, "Hmmm, am I going to have pancakes or eggs-me?" I thought the eggs-me was clever! ]

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 10/12/2006 6.06]

00Sunday, December 10, 2006 5:42 AM

Scritto da: TERESA BENEDETTA 10/12/2006 4.47
Given his maternal upbringing, he eats a 'very healthy diet' with fruit, fish and pasta as lunch staples. And he hardly has guests for meals, as is well known. He eats a light supper - usually soup and yogurt.

No wonder he looks so great for a man his age!!! [SM=g27830] [SM=x40790]
00Tuesday, December 12, 2006 8:40 PM

Ratzinger’s “Introduction to Christianity” published in Russian

Konigstein, Dec. 12, 2006 (CNA) - A translation of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s, “Introduction to Christianity,” has been made available in Russian for the first time.

The book, written in 1968 by the man who is now Pope Benedict XVI, includes a foreword by Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, chairman of the Russian Orthodox Church’s foreign department. The publication was co-financed by the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Peter Humeniuk, an expert in Catholic-Orthodox relations, who heads ACN’s section for relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, said this week that the translation’s publication will provide an excellent step forward in ecumenical relations. “It is of utmost importance that this reference work by one of the world’s most important theologians is now accessible to Russian readers, especially in academies and seminaries,” he said.

“It is a step towards a better understanding for the common roots of our Churches,” Humeniuk added. “This is also clear from the letter the Pope has sent to Metropolitan Kirill in order to thank him for his foreword.”

00Wednesday, December 13, 2006 1:07 PM
If only someone had the time to go through the Foto Felici and Osservatore
Romano catalogs of the papal pictures they shoot every day (or much 'easier',
after every event), our photo pages would grow exponentially!

Tonight, I just did a random check on two dates - the Pope's last day in
Turkey and the visit to Santa Maria Stella del evangelizzazione last Sunday
(pages and pages of thumbnails, plus the enlargements, to look at). Not really
having time to look closely, I simply clicked to enlarge a few thumbnails which
caught my attention . Here they are:

From the Turkey trip -

Papino with one of the flight attendants on the Turkish Airlines flight that took
him back to Rome. Naughty Papino! Wouldn't you want to be the object of that appreciative
gleam in his eye?

With one of the Iraqi refugees who made up the choir at the Cathedral of the
Holy Spirit.

And from the Church dedication on Sunday:
With the children of the parish.

Obviously, we are missing a lot by not going through the Vatican photo
catalog. Maybe we should take turns to sift through the photos of each event
shortly after it happens....

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 14/12/2006 11.59]

00Wednesday, December 13, 2006 6:15 PM

Vatican Christmas tree -- tallest ever -- arrives from southern Italy

The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The pope's Christmas tree -- the tallest to date to adorn the Vatican -- is finally in position in St. Peter's Square after bad weather and other problems delayed its arrival for over a week.

"This morning I saw the tree from my window," Pope Benedict XVI told several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Basilica for the weekly public audience Wednesday.

The 33-meter (109-foot) high fir tree from the mountains of Sila National Park in Calabria, southern Italy, arrived at the Vatican during the night. Thick fog encountered en route was the last of a series of delivery problems.

First workers had problems cutting down the tree because of heavy winds. Then they had to figure out how to hoist the 9-ton tree onto the helicopter which carried it on the first leg of the trip to the Vatican.

"We were on the Sila for three days," Eugenio Ripepe, supervisor of the delivery told Associated Press Television as he described the transportation difficulties.

The tradition of erecting a Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square, beside a larger than life Nativity scene, was introduced by the late Pope John Paul II in 1982.

According to Vatican statistics, the trees, which over the past 24 years have come from different European countries or regions of Italy, have never surpassed 32 meters (105 feet), making the Calabrian tree the tallest.

The tree will be decorated in the coming days, and lit on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve.

[Modificato da benefan 13/12/2006 20.14]

00Thursday, December 14, 2006 12:12 PM
A brief item from the Italian news agency ASCA yesterday says that -

A delegation of Italian bakers presented the Pope yesterday with a five-kilo panettone (traditional raisin bread for Christmas) as well as a pectoral cross.

The cross was designed from an original mold prepared by the late sculptor Enrico Manfrini (who died in 2003) for Paul VI, who considered him his favorite contemporary sculptor. Cardinal Ratzinger also reportedly admires Manfrini's works.

The gifts were presented at the end of yesterday's general audience.

The bakers thanked the Pope particularly for his continuing advocacy of family values and the sacredness of Sunday rest.
00Thursday, December 14, 2006 3:03 PM
Through Beatrice's Pope website beatriceweb.eu, we are introduced to this German site of a Regensburg bookshop which carries many goodies about Papst Benedikt -

Hrewith a sampling -

00Thursday, December 14, 2006 5:13 PM

Scritto da: TERESA BENEDETTA 14/12/2006 12.12
A brief item from the Italian news agency ASCA yesterday says that -

A delegation of Italian bakers presented the Pope yesterday with a five-kilo panettone (traditional raisin bread for Christmas) as well as a pectoral cross.

The cross was designed from an original mold prepared by the late sculptor Enrico Manfrini (who died in 2003) for Paul VI, who considered him his favorite contemporary sculptor. Cardinal Ratzinger also reportedly admires Manfrini's works.

The gifts were presented at the end of yesterday's general audience.

The bakers thanked the Pope particularly for his continuing advocacy of family values and the sacredness of Sunday rest.

[SM=g27811] [SM=g27811]
00Thursday, December 14, 2006 5:31 PM
Insieme photos also available on www.photo.va
Not sure if this is quite the right place to post this, but I'm coming out of long lurkdom to post because I'd like to make everyone aware that many of the photos in the Insieme calendar are also available at L'Osservatore Romano's photo website here. Don't ask me how because I was under the impression that they were taken by someone from Famiglia Cristiana, which is why I never even thought of looking there before.

In any case, do a simple search and enter the key words "Benedetto" and "Castel Gandolfo" and they should come up.

00Thursday, December 14, 2006 7:06 PM
It's entirely possible that the Vatican photographer also shot pictures that day alongside the Famiglia Cristiana photographer
'for the record.' The office in charge of keeping complete documentation on the Holy Father (as far as possible) would be remiss if it did not do that.

I haven't had a chance to check out the site because you know how checking out a photo site can bog you down for hours, but if there are completely identical photos to the ones that came out in the INSIEME calendar, it is also possible that they simply asked FAMIGLIA CRISTIANA for the right to post them on the Vatican site. However, if they come with the Osservatore Romano watermark, then that means they were taken by a Vatican photographer.

THANKS A LOT FOR THE TIP! That should keep a lot of us busy...

E MILLE GRA(T)ZIE, DIPL, PER LE FOTO CON I PANIFICATORI... or rather, with one baker; the rest of the people around the Pope in the pictures all seem to be clergymen!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 14/12/2006 19.55]

00Friday, December 15, 2006 4:34 AM

Pope's liturgical schedule for Christmas season

Dec. 14, 2006 (CWNews.com) - The Vatican has released the schedule of public ceremonies at which Pope Benedict XVI will preside during the Christmas season:

December 24: Midnight Mass of the Nativity in St. Peter’s Basilica

December 25: The Urbi et Orbi message, to be delivered at noon from the balcony of the Vatican basilica

December 31: The first Vespers of the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and singing of the Te Deum in thanksgiving for the blessings of the past year, at 6 in the evening in St. Peter’s basilica.

January 1: Mass for the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and the formal delivery of the Pope’s message for the 40th annual World Day of Peace, attended by the members of the Vatican diplomatic corps, at 10 in the morning in St. Peter’s basilica.

January 6: Mass for the feast of the Epiphany, in the Vatican basilica at 10.

January 7: Mass for the feast of the Baptism of our Lord, at 10 in the Sistine Chapel, with the Pope to baptize a number of babies during the ceremony.

00Monday, December 18, 2006 11:18 PM
Pope's Regensburg Address Wins 'Speech of the Year'

Pope Benedict's controversial Regensburg speech, which angered the Muslim world for appearing to link Islam and violence, won a "Speech of the Year" award from a university in his native Germany on Monday.

The Pope, who gave the speech during a visit to Germany in September, apologised several times for any misunderstanding it caused among Muslims after protests including attacks on churches in the Middle East and the killing of a nun in Somalia.

He did not withdraw his words and Roman Catholic officials accused the media of wilfully misrepresenting the speech, a view the jury of the prestigious Tuebingen University's Seminar for Rhetoric echoed in its announcement.

"The topic of this deliberately misunderstood speech is the relationship between reason and faith in Christianity and the affirmation of the Christian conviction that acting reasonably corresponds to the nature of God," it said.

"In its direct but multilayered composition, the speech is masterfully constructed," it said. "The Pope ... delivered his thoughts with courage and decisiveness, without the willingness to appease and accommodate that often passes for dialogue."

In his speech, the Pope quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor as saying Islam had only brought evil to the world and that it was spread by the sword, a method that was unreasonable and contrary to God's nature.

He used the quote to launch into a much longer discussion of the key influence of ancient Greek philosophical reasoning on the early Christian faith and invited Muslim scholars to enter into a dialogue about faith and reason with Christians.

Benedict later defused the issue with Turkish Muslims on a visit there last month by praying in Istanbul's Blue Mosque.

The Tuebingen jury said the fact that the obscure Byzantine quote the Pope chose to illustrate his argument about faith and reason could attract such international attention "proves it is still relevant over 500 years later."

The Seminar for Rhetoric has been giving "Speech of the Year" awards since 1998, with prize winners including former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and the French-German European Parliament deputy Daniel Cohn-Bendit.

(c) Reuters 2006. All rights reserved.
00Tuesday, December 19, 2006 4:25 PM
Rocco Palmo has this interesting sidelight on Pope Benedict's
nomination yesterday of Archbishop Thomas Collins
of Edmonton as archbishop of Toronto

When the archbishop met with Pope Benedict on his ad limina visit in late October, he said he just "babbled on about the diocese," and was taken aback on hearing yesterday that the pontiff was likely auditioning him for Toronto.

Benedict delayed action on the appointment until he could spend some time with Collins, who was part of the final group of prelates on the Canadians' quinquennial pilgrimage to the Vatican. The Pope is believed to have had his eye on his eventual choice after the archbishop's interventions at last year's Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist.

While, in their private meeting, the Pope probably noticed Collins' bookishness -- the latter confessed to a "coffee table... stacked with books: history, biographies, poetry, a lot of stuff" -- one thing that didn't come up in the session was their shared affinity for cats.

At the suggestion of his sisters, shortly after arriving in Edmonton he got himself a "furry little fellow with furry feet," which he didn't name at first.

"I thought if I called it 'Rex,' I might give it an identity crisis," he said. "I thought if I called it 'Gandalf,' that'd be kind of pretentious."

He eventually settled on Frodo. And the cat's coming with himto Toronto.

Pope Benedict has an advantage over his 20th-century predecessors in the matter of naming bishops for new assignments or higher positions.

As Prefect of the CDF for almost a quarter-century, a visit with him to discuss diocesan issues and problems was the next most important 'must' on the agenda of every bishop making an ad-limina visit to Rome, after meeting with the Pope.

These face-to-face meetings undoubtedly gave him a direct sense about the individual bishops, whose dossiers are also carefully studied by the CDF prior to any nomination or new assignment. His 'knowledge' of them can only be reinforced when they meet him now that he is Pope.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 19/12/2006 16.28]

00Tuesday, December 19, 2006 5:44 PM
Who knew that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith once had as its functions a 'defense' of the physical structures of the faith as well? Lella shares us this article from today's issue of La Repubblica, translated here:

Ratzinger 'uncovered' architectural plan
that rescued the dome of St. Peter's


VATICAN CITY - Papa Ratzinger is a world-famous theologian and Biblical scholar, but what does he have to do with architecture?

A few months before he was elected Pope, the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith disclosed the restoration work undertaken by Luigi Vanvitelli, chief architect of the venerated Fabbrica di San Pietro [the Vatican's home 'factory' for the physical replacement and restoration of buildings and objects among the Vatican's invaluable holdings] in the second half of the 17th century to prevent the threatened collapse of St. Peter's dome.

It consisted of 'containing' the dome within 6 giant iron rings to keep it together and prevent worsening of dangerous structural defects that had developed just a little over a century after its construction.

The rings and other metal structures needed were built at an old ironworks factory in Ferriere di Conca owned by the CDF, which built iron structures at that time not only for the Vatican but also for surrounding areas, particularly the Kingdom of Naples and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

Cardinal Ratzinger revealed this for the first time during a conference held on May 4, 2004, in Conca, but the work of the conference never got published becuase of John Paul II's worsening illness, his eventual death and the election of Ratzinger as Pope.

The Cardinal presented the results of research undertaken by local architect Ugo de Angelis for the CDF with the support of the mayor of Conca and the local tourism board.

The research objective was to document the work of a site that the then Holy Office used to raise funds for its own use while being able to employ workers in the area.

Ratzinger said the restoration of St. Peter's Dome took five years, 1743-1748.

"Tt was a providential intervention," he said, "made possible by those giant rings. So we can speak today of rediscovering another aspect of the then-Holy Office, as an institution that provided the structures necessary to save and preserve great monuments threatened by the ravages of time."

He enumerated the specific damages that threatened the Basilica at the time - "serious worries about damage to the dome, its rims, its supporting pillars and their foundations, the buttresses, the windows, and the cornices of the 'attic'."

What concerned Vanvitelli most, he said, was "the buttresses and the walls supporting the dome, which were subject to the horizontal forces imposed by the dome itself, and which had started to show an alarmingly significant leaning outward."

Installing 6 giant rings around the dome "besides preventing the development of any further damage also definitvely averted the risk of a possible collapse of the whole Basilica." Which has survived to our day without any further problems.

(da "la repubblica" del 19 dicembre 2006)

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 19/12/2006 20.51]

Music of Lorien
00Tuesday, December 19, 2006 6:32 PM

"I thought if I called it 'Rex,' I might give it an identity crisis," he said. "I thought if I called it 'Gandalf,' that'd be kind of pretentious."

He eventually settled on Frodo. And the cat's coming with himto Toronto.

HMMM. I have several up on the Archbishop.

I have a Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin, a Rosie Cotton, Tom Bombadil, Goldberry, Bilbo Baggins - who likes to join in with the Greek choir (I kid you not)

AND a Gandalf - he's half white and half grey - purrfect.

The only ring they are interested in is Papa's; they would like to go to Rome to kiss it! [SM=g27828] Please. And him.

I don't have a cat named Benedict, yet. Anyone have a cat named after Papa, Ratzi...?

[Modificato da Music of Lorien 19/12/2006 23.23]

00Wednesday, December 20, 2006 12:03 AM

I don't have a cat named Benedict, yet. Anyone have a cat named after Papa, Ratzi...?

My very first kitten was named Joseph, he was a grey tabby. But that was like 17 years ago... [SM=g27813]

Music, I love how you named your ktties. Are you gonna name any future ones after any elves?

[Modificato da PhoenixRising 20/12/2006 0.06]

Music of Lorien
00Wednesday, December 20, 2006 1:18 AM
Phoenix, YES, I would love a Legolas and a Galadriel!!

Very appropos, as cats are very beautiful and elegant likes elves.

I wonder if Papa used to name all the cats he fed in the gardens near the Vatican. I read that he spoke to them in German. I wonder if he used to name his animals, his bears?

00Wednesday, December 20, 2006 1:40 AM

I wonder if Papa used to name all the cats he fed in the gardens near the Vatican. I read that he spoke to them in German. I wonder if he used to name his animals, his bears?

I'd like to think he did. [SM=g27821] [SM=g27821] [SM=g27821]

Your Gandalf sounds so cute! I love kitties. [SM=g27811] I think that Elrond would be a very nice name for an elegant tom cat. [SM=x40799]
Music of Lorien
00Wednesday, December 20, 2006 5:07 AM
Yes, Elrond is a gorgeous name. One of my favorite characters too. Very suitable for an elegant tom. I've heard some long Tolkien names used for pedigree cats.

Phoenix, is Joseph a name from your family, or were you being a little prophetic in naming your first kitty Joseph? It's a darling name for a kitty, or a cat.

I just realized that I said he used to talk to the cats in German! Well, of course he would! Papa knows that cats are multilingual (wink). They obviously understand him very well, whatever language he is speaking. [SM=x40800]

[Modificato da Music of Lorien 20/12/2006 5.09]

00Wednesday, December 20, 2006 5:27 AM
WOW! That is a lot of cats!! They all sound beautiful.
00Wednesday, December 20, 2006 5:55 AM

Yes, Elrond is a gorgeous name. One of my favorite characters too. Very suitable for an elegant tom. I've heard some long Tolkien names used for pedigree cats.

Phoenix, is Joseph a name from your family, or were you being a little prophetic in naming your first kitty Joseph? It's a darling name for a kitty, or a cat.

LOL, imagine naming your kitty Luthien Tinuviel. [SM=g27824]

Actually, my brother named the kitten Joseph. I don't remember the reasoning behind it, maybe he just liked the name. [SM=g27827]:

WOW! That is a lot of cats!! They all sound beautiful.

I'm gonna have to agree with Nan! [SM=g27835]

[Modificato da PhoenixRising 20/12/2006 5.58]

Music of Lorien
00Thursday, December 21, 2006 2:10 AM

LOL, imagine naming your kitty Luthien Tinuviel.

ROTFL, Phoenix ... try saying that quickly more than ten times [SM=g27828]

Yes, Nan, it is a lot! They have to take turns at lap time.
00Saturday, December 23, 2006 3:46 AM
In the French section, Andrea M. has posted an item from the German Bunte magazine, issue of 12/20/06, which says that -

Mons. Georg Ratzinger, the Pope's brother, will be in Rome after(?) Christmas, and is bringing him a new book about the unforgettable Papal trip to Bavaria as well as some of the Pope's favorite goodies baked by Georg's housekeeper, Agnes Heindl.

Andrea says many German newspapers are reporting that the papal holiday fare will feature veniion from Germany.

And she thinks the book from Georg might be this one:

Bistum Regensburg (Hrsg.):
Papst Benedikt XVI. in Regensburg.
Erinnerungen an ein Jahrtausendereignis
Texte von Karl Birkenseer
Fotos von Uwe Moosburger und Christoph Hurnaus.
1. Auflage.
Regensburg: Verlag Friederich Pustet, 2006.

Diocese of Regensburg (Publisher)-
Pope Benedict XVI in Regensburg:
Memories of a Once-A-Millennium Event
Text by Karl Birkenseer
Photos by Uwe Moosburger and Christoph Hurnaus.
First Printing.
Regensburg: Friedrich Pustet Publishing House, 2006.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 23/12/2006 3.48]

00Sunday, December 24, 2006 10:24 AM
Andrea M. posted this story of 12/21/06 from the Mittelbayerische Zeitung, in the German section. Here is a translation:

Christmas with the Pope:
Venison roast and baked goodies

Benedict celebrates Bavarian-style,
with Christmas trees from home
By Martin Zoller

Some 11 hours car drive from the Vatican is the little village of Hufschlag on the outskirts of Traunstein. The boy Joseph Ratzinger lived in a farmhouse there in the 1930s. Now he is 79 and is called Benedict XVI.

And when he celebrates Christmas with his small circle of close associates, it wil be as reverent and as Bavarian as the Christmases he spent with his family as a boy. Except that, he will also have to celebrate Mass for millions of people.

But for the Pope's home-style Christmas at the Vatican, everything is ready. Munich banker Thaddaeus Kuehnel has seen to it, as he has done for 25 years for his friend, then-Cardinal Ratzinger.

For 25 years, he has faithfully delivered to Rome every Christmastime everything that brings joy to a Bavarian in the holiday season: sausage,. Advent wreaths, ham, baked goodies, Kloster beer.

Thanks to Kuehnel's last trip over the Brenner Pass,the Christmas room in the Papal apartments now looks like that of the Schulzes or the Hubers anywhere in Germany.

There are two Christmas trees in the Pope's living room. Until a few days ago, they were growing in the Bavarian woods on the property of a farming family in Waldingen. Then Kuehnel came, the treees were chosen and chopped, and he strapped both trees securely to his car roof. They would not be unbound again until Kuehnel reached the courtyard of the Apostolic palace.

From that time, the trees became the responsibility of Carmela, Emanuela, Loredana and Christina, the Pope's lay nun housekeepers. They not only decorated the trees, but also have to prepare the main dish for Christmas dinner from a deer shot by a Swabian hunter, Gisbert Sattler, earlier this week.

Kuehnel also brought the Pope a variety of cookies made by Bavarian cloistered nuns - vanilla Kipferl, anise cookies, cinnamon stars, jam-filled cookies, and Stollen (a Christmas cake).

"The Holy Father has a weakness for sweet things," says Sister Irma.

The Pope's brother, Georg, flies to Rome on December 28, but even on Christmas Eve, the Pope will be wallowing in memories of Christmas past, as he loves to do, according to those who have known him in Rome for long.

In the Christmas room of the Apostolic Palace, he has put up the creche that has been with him since was a professor in Regensburg.

Unlike most other people, however, the Pope will have a lot to do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - beginning with the Midnight Mass at St. Peter's Basilica, and 12 hours later, his Crhistmas message to the world, with greetings in 62 languages, and his blessing Urbi et Orbi.

His Christmas message is expected to have a social theme. It is said that he may be ready soon to issue his second encyclical which will reportedly have to do with the Church response to globalization.


[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 24/12/2006 22.54]

00Sunday, December 24, 2006 10:55 PM
I found the Sueeddeutsche Zeitung article of 12/23/06 that Andrea referred to in the earlier post. Here is a translation:

Christmas greetings from the homeland:
A tree for Benedict

By Stefan Ulrich

Thaddäus Joseph Kühnel before leaving Munich
to bring his Christmas load of Bavarian cheer
to the Pope (Photo: dpa)

It is almost as if it is from another world, this black Mercedes with the Christmas trees on its roof deck, as it makes its way through Rome's afternoon traffic. Driving it is the Pope's own Santa Claus [the German term is Weihnachtsmann, literally, Christmas man, usually translated as Father Christmas].

He steers the limousine carefully past the Bernini colonnade towards an iron-gated entrance. The Swiss Guard salute, and the secret-laden car enters the Vatican - around the apse of St. Peter's Basilica towards the Cortile di San Damaso [the inner courtyard that gives access to the Apostolic Palace] where he finally parks.

Waiting to greet him is Georg Gänswein, the Pope's private secretary. As dusk falls over the Vatican, both men take down from the roof deck three blue spruces from the Bavarian woods [I see 5 cut ends in the picture, though!] and take them to the private elevator that leads up the Appartamento - the Papal residence.

Then they also unload all the Bavarian goodies for Pope Benedict from the trunk - Stollen and fruit cakes, all sorts of baked delicacies, and even aromatic beeswax candles. In a season when one gives gifts to everyone, one must think of the Pope as well!

That evening, Thaddäus Joseph Kühnel, Papal Santa Claus, sits with the Pope on the couch in his living room. Finally, they can chat at leisure and at peace, as Kuehnel said, "about God and the world," and about the time when Joseph Ratzinger was a Cardinal and could freely walk about and patronize the restaurants in the neigborhood.

"That time is gone," says Kuehnel later, over a glass of Rosso di Montalcino at a bar near St. Peter's Square. "The Pope is now a prisoner in the Vatican."

Nevertheless, he says, Benedict was very happy. "We laughed together about many things." As, for instance, the Pope's amusement over news reports that the Vatican wished to set up a professional football team. A canard for Christmas!

"Of course, it is something to sit together with the Pope on a couch," says Kuehnel. "But I was not at all excited." The man in the three-piece suit obviously counts among the Pope's closest friends.

Kuehnel, a director of the Munich private bank Hauck und Aufhäuser, first met Joseph Ratzinger in the monastery of Bad Adelholzen in 1978. Whem, four years later, the cardinal left his Bavaria to take up his Curial position in Rome, Kuehnel promised him, "I will supply you with Bavarian things in Rome."

He kept his word. For 25 years, he has travelled several times a year from the Isar to the Tiber to bring his friend whatever the season requires - Easter lambs, Advent wreaths, Christmas trees. Kuehnel has even brought him kegs of fruit juices from Adelholzen and Andechser beer.

'But I have stopped bringing things that are too heavy for me," says the 61-year-old. This time, he brought the Pope a carved sheep from the Christmas market (Christkindlmarkt) in Altoetting.

"The Holy Father immediately unwrapped the present," he said. "He can be giddily happy about such little things."

A Pope who entusiastically opens his Christmas gifts - that seems a tender new image of Joseph Ratzinger. Whatever happened to the stern cardinal that the world knew earlier? [Oh please, not this stereotype even from a Munich reporter!]Has the office changed the man?

Kuehnel, sipping his wine, says, "I don't think so! I have always known him as a simple, good-hearted man. Now, even his critics are also seeing that," he says with a trace of bitterness.

He says he was earlier mocked very often because of his friendship with Ratzinger. "What are you pals with him for - he is passe," they would tell him. He didn't allow himself to be affected.

Now, he recalls how many years ago, an old nun told him, "Be loyal to the Cardinal. He will become someone even greater."

Now that his friend is Pope, Kuehnel can hardly 'escape' all the 'new friends' he has. From all over Germany, people have been calling him who know about his Christmas trips for the Pope, and dozens of packages intended for the Pope arrived at his bank in Munich.

"For His Holiness, Pope Benedict - through Herr Kuehnel", is the typical inscription from total strangers. But the messenger from Munich chose to take along only those gifts from people who had considered Ratzinger a friend when he was only a cardinal. After all, he is not a delivery service, just the Pope's own 'Weihnachtsmann!.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 25/12/2006 21.50]

00Sunday, December 24, 2006 11:14 PM
Re: the Pope's Bavarian Christmas

I'm so glad, especially about the springerle! It's just not Christmas in my family without anise cookies, and I was thinking that the Pope probably liked them, too.
@Andrea M.@
00Sunday, December 24, 2006 11:16 PM
Thanks Teresa!!!!!!!
Hi Teresa,

funnily enough Süddeutsche Zeitung is indeed featuring the article online ... I for one would have somehow thought they would not ...

And thanks for translating both articles into English as well as the small item from "Bunte". Whether the content of the "Bunte"-piece is anything to go by we would have to wait and see!!!

I hope you enjoyed the articles.

And besides: The book by Pustet publishing house on the Holy Father's visit to Bavaria - in my opinion at least - is THE BEST BOOK on the subject as far as both photos and text are concerned.


[Modificato da @Andrea M.@ 24/12/2006 23.21]

00Tuesday, December 26, 2006 7:52 AM
Here is an item from Vatican Radio's German service about the planned study center on Joseph Ratzinger's works referred to in a recent post in NEWS ABOUT BENEDICT :

Pope Benedict XVI supports the founding of a Cardinal Ratzinger Study Center in Rome funded by royalties from books written before he became Pope.

"It would be a documentation center, in which the original texts, translations and secondary literature - that is, Joseph Ratzinger's output as a theologian - would be gathered together to allow research and study of his theology," according to Fr. Stephan Horn, president of the Ratzinger Schuelerkreise, ex-doctoral students of then professor Joseph Ratzinger who have been meeting with their mentor annually for the past 25 years.

Fr. Horn took part in a recent meeting in Rome among publishers of Ratzinger books in German, Italian, English and other language editions, with representatives of the Vatican publishing house which now holds all the rights to Jseph Ratzinger's publications.

The center would also fund scholarly research in theological areas that are of interest to the Pope.

"Ecclesiology, or the perspective of the Church, in Ratzinger's view, has been quite well researched. But a lot remains to be done. Biblical theology, patristics and fundamental theology are the main points that most interest the Pope."

The Schuelerkreise has considered the logistical aspects of opening such a center.

"The Center will be in Rome, but we have no schedule yet. However, this is an idea we have pursued for about 7-8 years and which we have discussed with the Pope, so we can really start soon," Horn added.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 26/12/2006 8.00]

00Wednesday, December 27, 2006 2:09 AM
Lella in the main forum shares audience share figures released by RAI (Italian state TV) on its website for the events of Christmas Day:

The Pope's 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing at noon led with 34.32% of audience share, corresponding to 3.33 million TV homes. The midnight Mass was second with 30.04% (2.27 million homes).

Other RAI specials for Christmas Day drew under 30%, including a "Christmas of fables" for children and the traditional Christmas concert from the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.

00Wednesday, December 27, 2006 5:44 PM
Avvenire reports that Ulisse Sartini, who was commissioned by the Vatican in 2005 to paint the portrait of Benedict XVI that was the basis for the mosaic reproduction now featured in the gallery of mosaic papal portraits lining the upper walls of the Basilica of St Paul-outside-the Walls, was scheduled to present the Pope after the general audience today with a lifesize oil
portrait (2.2 meters tall, or approximately 5'10", counting margins, the Pope being 5'7").

I am sure a picture of this will be posted somewhere today.

Sartini, who lives in Milan, painted a portrait of John Paul II which is kept in the Vatican's Hall of Congregations. His works appear in many other Italian churches. He also painted two altar panels (the Annunciation and the Baptism of Jesus) for the only Catholic Church in Kabul, Afghanistan, which is located inside the Italian embassy grounds there.

Very early on in this thread, there is a translation of Sartini's wondrous recollection of his meeting with Benedict XVI at the time he presented the portrait for thhe mosaic.

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