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

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00Wednesday, July 9, 2008 4:23 PM
Curt Jester has great competition now for really clever LOL spoof advertising....

Marketing The "New" New Mass!

July 8, 2008

When I heard the report at the end of last week that Pope Benedict has asked the Congregation for Divine Worship to study some potential changes to the liturgy, I got very excited.

Think about all the possibilities! Think about what the Mass could be, rather than what it often is. The abuses and experiments, gone! The tawdry celebration of self, gone! Latin back in its proper place! Gregorian Chant! The priest's magnificent back on glorious display!

The more I thought about it the more excited I became and the more I started wondering how would such a change be successfully introduced to the faithful? How could we not only have the faithful accept the changes to the mass, but actually desire them? To want them, need them, can't live without them?!?

Then like a light bulb, I realized there is no need to re-invent the light bulb. We should use some tried and true methods that have proved their effectiveness over generations. We should use some ol' fashioned marketing techniques to sell the new New Mass to the masses!

Now I know what you are thinking. "Patrick, we have no idea what the new New Mass of the masses will look like or even if there will be a new New Mass." I say, don't bother me with such minutiae. We need to build anticipation, we need to build hype, we need to build overwhelming demand! Therefore, let's move full steam ahead with some advance marketing!

First, we need a good product name. Fortunately, I took care of that for them the other day when I dubbed the new New Mass, Novus Ordo 2.0. I know, I know. Stroke of genius that.

But now we need a marketing campaign sell the Novus Ordo 2.0. As you know, any good marketing plan starts with good packaging. So I decided that I should to help ante-deluvian dolts in the Vatican marketing department out. Therefore I have issued, motu proprio, the first great marketing campaign of the "Reform of the Reform" era. I give you Papa Ben's Novus Ordo 2.0!

00Wednesday, July 9, 2008 10:35 PM
Super poster!!!!
I'd love to print this out and stick it on the inner door of our church! It could just wake up a few sleepers!
00Wednesday, July 23, 2008 4:46 AM

Hosting the Pope's Summer Vacation, July 28-August 11, 2008

Welcome to the Ratzinger Dolomites!
by Roberto di Caro
Translated from

July 17, 2008

The city of Bressanone seen from a hilltop vineyard.

The first time he came on vacation here, he stayed in a local hostel with his brother and sister. That was followed by a series of summer vacations until 2004.

Now he is coming back to Bressanone for another vacation but as the Pope. With a personal staff and 25 Vatican gendarmes to provide close-in security while he sojourns at the Seminario Maggiore, which will have Vatican extra-territorial status during the 15 days that the Pope is in residence.

Six hundred local and state policemen will be on call for the Pope's security, and to protect his privacy within the seminary grounds, a temporary three meter-high fence 600 meters in circumference, draped in black plastic. All this for security but also out of respect.

The first time Joseph Ratzinger came to Bressanone for a summer holiday was in 1970 - a shy priest who, with his brother Georg and sister Maria, took single rooms using a common bathroom at the Gruener Baum, then a simple family-run hostel which catered in the summers to the students attending the summer courses of the University of Padua. [It is now a four-star hotel under the Best Western chain.]

"Of the three, Georg was the VIP because he was choirmaster of the famous Regensburg cathedral choir, but it was their sister Maria who was clearly in command," recalls Christina Stremitzer, who, with her husband Burghart, owns the hotel.

Later, after Joseph Ratzinger became a cardinal, he came to Bressanone every three years, lodging at the Seminario Maggiore but still frequenting the Gruener Baum for its canederli (like gnocchi but made with old bread instead of potatoes, usually flavored with bacon or smoked prosciutto, and his favorite crepes with myrtle jam.

It was at the Gruener Baum that he met his 'astrological' sister Hilde March Albertini who, like him, was born on April 16, 1927. She would take the siblings for long car rides through the Aurina Valley. Coffee with her became a daily custom right up to the last vacation as cardinal in 2004. When he was elected Pope, she went to the Vatican to visit him.

In a recent interview with Radio Maria, she expressed her concern at the exertion that the trip to Australia must be costing him. But right now, she herself is vacationing abroad!

Even as a cardinal who would be greeted on his arrival by the local band, Joseph Ratzinger was simply another quiet vacationer, whom people would see taking afternoon walks along city streets or the banks of the Isar.

"Most Italians recognized him, but few Germans did," says Karl Gruber, the diocesan superintendent of sacred art.

"On Sundays he would come to the Cathedral for the 3 p.m. rosary like any other parishioner, joining a group of about 30 regulars," says Canon Herman Messner, emeritus dean of the Seminary and the Cathedral.

Now he is Benedict XVI, and some people are not above trying to capitalize on it. For instance, one hotel is advertising 'among our new offers for 2008' a so-called 'pope package' which includes free use of a solarium and access to the aquatic park.

And then there are the shops offering souvenirs in anticipation of the increased tourist volume between July 28 and August 11, and especially on August 3 and 10 when the Pope leads the Angelus from Cathedral Square.

At Kompatscher, the souvenir shop nearest the Seminary, hundreds of Benedict XVI figurines carved from lindenwood are on display - 330 euro for the one that is 40 cm (about 16 inches) tall, 80 euro for the 15-cm (6-inch) version. There's a pop-style portrait that sells for 900 euros, as well as small souvenir plates at 5 euro. The shop owner says that the cardinal came into the shop once in the past but did not buy anything.

But from Hermann Bernardi, he did buy "a pair of shoes in smooth goatskin, very elegant - similar to what Werner Perathoner, the famous downhill skier from Val Gardena, wore for his wedding. They don't make them anymore".

Everyone has anecdotes about Ratzinger. At Finsterwirt, they have renamed their dining hall Papststube in his honor. He used to come and dine on gnocchi, rack of lamb in myrtle compote, Schupfnudeln (a sort of potato noodles made with salt and pepper, and apricot strudel.
Finsterwirt has been the eating place for the fathers of the Cathedral chapter for generations, and its entrance hall features a valuable life-size sculpted crucifix dating from 1740.

Bressanone, a bishop's seat for a thousand years (960-1964) until the See was moved to Bolzano - Brixen in German, which almost everyone speaks here - is a city of the Church par excellence. A local saying about the Alto-Adige region says, "Bolzano for the bacon, Merano for the hot springs, Brunico for skiing, and Bressanone for the Church."

For centuries, it has been the priests who dictate what can be said and done here, residents like to say.

"The city has always adapted," says Mayor Albert Puergstaller. For the Pope's visit, it budgeted 150-200,000 euro to properly equip Cathedral Square for the two Angelus hours to be presided by the Pope. The cost also covers a new porphyry pavement for the square in front of the Seminario Maggiore, a helicopter station near the hospital, free bottled water to all pilgrims coming for the Angelus, and to trim the hedges, shrubs and undergrowth along the Isar River, particularly in the protected zone, to make sure the area cannot harbor suspicious elements.

There will be no rock or pop concerts in town during those 15 days, but there will be a parade of the Schuetzen or Alpine Guard (the Pope is honorary marshal of the Bavarian Schuetzen), the summer festival of musical bands in the bishop's gardens, and a rich calendar of sacred music concerts at the Cathedral as part of the annual symposium 'Musik und Kirche'.

There is a separate budget for the renovations at the Seminario Maggiore, all four floors of it. It has a fresh coat of paint and bathrooms have been installed in each of the student quarters on the second and third floors. It has cost 1.2 million euros, a fourth of the budget for the four-year project which has been planned for the past 50 years.

"We would never have been able to undertake it if the city had not advanced one million euros to start it off," says Thomas Schraffl, the seminary's lay administrator.

The last room to be 'prepared' for the papal visit was the Seminary's famous jewel of a library which underwent a thorough cleaning of its magnificent mosaics.

Sorry, enlarging the picture does not give a better definition of the lecturer's face because of the 'flash spot'.

This was actually the setting for the very first visit made to Bressanone by a young Father Ratzinger, who came in 1967 to give lectures to the German-speaking bishops of northern Italy on the proper formation for priesthood in the light of Vatican-II.

Joseph Ratzinger began writing the first volume of his JESUS OF NAZARETH in this library in August 2004. He may end up finishing Volume 2 in the same place.

When the Pope comes, the only ones who will stay on among the Seminary's normal residents are Seminary Rector Ivo Muser, Schraffl, building superintendent Gruber, and, at the Holy Father's specific request, Sister Maria Pieta Dorfmann, 77, the seminary's housekeeper.

But not to render service herself. The Pope will have his own staff to do that. It is the Pope's appreciation for her services to him every time he was a guest at the Seminary.

"He made his room and prepared the chapel every day for his daily Mass at 7:30, usually attended only by his brother Georg (and when she was still alive, their sister Maria) and Suor Maria Pieta herself.

After breakfast, the cardinal liked to sit in the garden to read, in a nook to the left of the Church which everyone now calls Ratzingerplatz.

Suor Maria also waited at meals when the cardinal and his brother would eat along with seminary professors and other priests. [Brother Georg will once again be be with the Pope in Bressanone this time.]

"He always ate everything with great appetite, he loved desserts, adored strawberries, and almost exclusively drank only fruit juices prepared by the nuns," she recalls.

One other feature of the cardinal's Bressanone vacations which may no longer be possible for the Pope - besides freely touring the Aurina valley - was what his guide calls 'art excursions'.

Karl Gruber says, "In 1992 we took a helicopter to the Benedictine monastery in Monte Maria. Her recognized right away the effigy of Pius V, who founded the Holy Office. He was deeply moved by a sculptural cycle of angels from 1160."

One time, they visited the frescoes of the passion of St. Nicholas in Sarentina, "together with a parish priest who, the cardinal said, reminded him of Bernanos's French country priest." Also, the Gothic cathedral at Terlano and Schloss Tirol (Tyrol Castle).

In 2001, Gruber recalls, the cardinal surprised everyone at the Marian shrine of Our Lady of Petralba (Maria Weissenstein, in German) - the most visited pilgrimage destination in the Alto Adige and site of an ancient pagan cult - when he joined tourists who entered a fissure in a massive rock which was the site of worship for the pagans.

"These are Jungian archetypes," the cardinal said. "I will tell the Holy Father 9John Paul II) about it."(In fact, John Paul II visited Pietralba in 1988).

But Gruber's favorite snapshot of the cardinal shows him bending down to pick up a toy bear that had been dropped by a little girl whose parents had asked him to bless her. "And that's the man they called the Panzerkardinal!"

Another immersion
in his beloved library

Joseph Ratzinger feels at home in Bressanone-Brixen. not the least because his maternal grandparents, Maria Tauber and Anton Peintner, are buried in nearby Val Pusteria, which, in their time, was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And his mother Maria spent her childhood there.

As a cardinal, Bressanone was his favorite vacation site. They were generally holidays spent reading and writing, much of it in the famous library of the Seminario Maggiore which has an amazing catalog of books in German.

It was in Bressanone where Cardinal Ratzinger sat down for three days with writer Vittorio Messori for what many called a manifesto for restoring the Church from its post-Vatican-II malaise, a book that became an itnernational best-seller (in English known as The Ratzinger Report).

This time, it may well be to finish, or at least make progress, on the second volume of JESUS OF NAZARETH, as well as his third encyclical.

Unlike Spe salvi, which was totally his from the first word to the last (and Deus caritas est, whose second part he adapted from a draft that had been prepared for John Paul II), the encylical on social issues and globalization was first drafted in vzrious Vatican offices, and by all accounts, the Holy Father was not happy about the first draft at all.

With a first-class library at hand in Bressanone, it may be far easier for him to do what he has to do than it would have been if he were spending this holiday at a remote mountain villa as he did in Les Combes and Lorenzago.

00Wednesday, July 23, 2008 5:49 AM

Great article about Papa's upcoming vacation, Teresa. Thanks for translating it.

I have been wondering how much Papa is going to be able to get around on this trip since Bressanone is a more populated and "urban" location than his two previous vacation spots. He has visited a lot of places around Bressanone in the past but where can he go now without being mobbed? I hate to think that he will be stuck in the seminary library the whole time.

Has anybody seen any layout of how the angeluses will be set up in the cathedral square? I read somewhere that the area around the cathedral will be off limits except for the angeluses.

All right, girls, who's going to Bressanone to see Papa? I know some of you must be making plans. Benevolens? benedetto.fan? Bressanone is almost in your back yard. It's probably not too far away from you too, Cowgirl. Who's going?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I don't think Papino will lack for any places to visit - not necessarily tourist spots. As he did in Les Combes and in Lorenzago, he will probably drop in without prior publicity on little monasteries or convents, churches, chapels and shrines in the countryside.

In addition, I certainly hope he will be able to visit his ancestral hometown Rio Pusteria, and he will probably want to visit the Madonna of Pietralba as Pope.

And I am intrigued about his 'astrological twin'! What an interesting side story!

I think we can be 100% sure that benevolens, benedetto.fan and Paparatzifan will all show up in Bressanone, so we won't lack for first-hand stories.. Not to forget Beatrice and Michele. Maybe Gabriella, too.

And this picture gives an indication of the Cathedral Square in Bressanone. It is much larger than any of the previous spaces in Les Combes and Lorenzago. It can accommodate a a crowd of 15,000, apparently.


00Wednesday, July 23, 2008 3:17 PM
Ok ladies, since you have already guessed as much, I can admit I'll be on my way to Bressanone soon [SM=g27822] . It is indeed 'in my backyard', just 600 km and my husband will do all the driving! Very early on I applied for entrance tickets for the Angelus of August 10th and we're blessed enough to have received news a few days ago that indeed we'll get the tickets. So now I'm very excited and can't wait for my last day at work August 1st and then.....!
I promise you I won't 'stalk' Papa [SM=g27828] , just hope that when I take looooong walks with my husband we'll bump into him by chance!! [SM=g27816] You never know. Just the thought of spending 10 days next door to Papa is good enough for me. And if last year's Angelus at Lorenzago is anything to go by, August 10th will be another unforgettable experience. I'm soooo looking forward to it all.... [SM=x40799] [SM=x40799] [SM=x40799]
00Wednesday, July 23, 2008 5:30 PM

Hosting the Pope's Summer Vacation, July 28-August 11, 2008

BRAVA, EVA! How delightful to be able to plan one's summer vacation around Benedict's vacation site for the year! Maybe Mary will be there too. It's an easy train ride from Venice (or Munich, or Vienna, if you prefer). If you go from Venice, you should try hooking up with Gloria (Paparatzifan). I haven't read them saying anything about their Bressanone plans, if any, but Caterina and Lella both live in northern Italy (Varese, near Milan) so they probably will be there too. There should be quiet a PRF gathering!

P.S. Gabriella has just confirmed she will be in Bressanone with Michele and Siegfried, and that Beatrice and Vincent will be there from France.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This was one of the early 'encounters with the future Pope' stories shortly after the April 2005 Conclave. I posted it in one of the early pages of the 'ENCOUNTERS...' thread, under the title "When the cardinal dined in Bressanone' and it is worth re-reading now. I made a few minor changes in the translation.


by Giuseppe Zerbetto
Il Gazzettino
May 1, 2005

From Marktl am Inn to Rome, via Bressanone. Not the usual route for a hypothetical train ride from Bavaria to the Eternal City, but the cardinal points in a story – minor but not less interesting – about Pope Benedict XVI and his special fondness for Bressanone, site of a bishopric that is one of the most important in Europe since its influence extends to the Lake of Constance on the Switzerland-Austria border.

It tells of Papa Ratzinger’s fondness for the city of the Prince-Bishops and his loyalty to the Stremitzer family, who own the hotel Gruener Baum [Green Tree], a sort of touristic intitution in the South Tyrol, since the time the first Stremitzer, called Felix, started to provide lodgings for travellers at the end of the 17th century.

From Stremitzer to Stremitzer (five of them, all named Johan), down to Burghart, the present owner, who listed among his clients for the first time in 1968 the then ‘simple’ priest Joseph Ratzinger. He came regularly every summer to Stufles, the ancient quarter of Bressanone beyond the Isarco river, with his brother Georg and sister Maria till 1976.

[This is the first story that indicates he came more than once to Bressanone before he became a cardinal. All the official stories from the Diocese refer to his ten vacations as cardinal between 1978 and 2004. It would have been on that first vacation at the Seminario Maggiore as Cardinal that he was visited by the then Patriarch of Venice, Albino Luciani, as a courtesy to a fellow cardinal visiting his region - an incident recalled by Cardinal Ratzinger himself. Two months later, Cardinal Ratzinger would vote in his first Conclave that saw Patriarch Luciani become John Paul I.]

“One day,” recounts Burghart Stremitzer emotionally, “Don Joseph communicated with me to say that he would no longer be able to stay at my hotel because he had been made a bishop, and it would therefore not be very convenient to stay at a hotel.” But that without renouncing his Brizenese vacations, he would have to stay at the seminary.

It would have seemed the end of a beautiful friendship. But no. It was the start of those “surprises” to which Pope Benedict has been accustoming the faithful since he became Pope. He called Stremitzer and asked if he could dine at the Gruener Baum. You can imagine the answer.

But not as easy to guess the menu that the new archbishop had ordered yearly, every August when he came round: myrtle pancakes [Palatschinken] – simple crepes (very tasty, apparently Bohemian in origin but widely known in all the lands that were once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire) which can be filled with anything one wishes but which the future Pope only preferred with myrtle jam, unlike his brother Georg who always preferred his crepes with currant filling.

And what was he like, the future Pope? "A charismatic person", Burghart maintains, "of absolutely superior culture and intelligence, very refined style, attentive to every little thing, and who was easily satisfied. He never once asked for a special table. And he was always interested not only in my family but even in our customers.”

It is a vast clientele which comes from all parts of the world (the hotel has 140 rooms and 240 beds, with some 60 employees). Last year, the ‘locals’ from the Veneto region numbered over a thousand.

Stremitzer says this was the result of a "good rapport that had been established with the University of Padua which has a summer campus here, and with the many professors who have become dear friends as well as guests.”

But what about the future Pope? Was his presence in the hotel open or secret?

“Oh, it was public knowledge. So much so that on that Tuesday, April 19, the day he became Pope, there were so many clients who called us to indicate their joy that one of their ‘acquaintances’ had become Pope.

"This morning, a German told me: 'Since you know him well, tell the Pope to pray for the economy of Germany, that it may regain what it used to be, so we can afford to return more often for vacations here in Alto Adige'.”

In effect, Germans and Italians, waiters and cooks, Signor Burkhart and his wife Christi and their daughter Cornelia (who represents the eighth generation of Stremitzer) – all were in seventh heaven when their cardinal was elected Pope. But Ratzinger’s election was an eventuality that many in Bressanone expected.

“I for one hoped for it,” Burghart Stremitzer admits, “but I did not dare say it out loud. My wife, howevr, was quick to bet on it. Therefore, when on that Tueday, the bells of our churches started to ring, we all ran towards the first TV that was on, and when the cardinal proto-deacon said ‘Josephus’ , we undertood right away that we could truly say 'Habemus papam.’ We rushed to the telephone to call Georg but his phone was tied up for hours that day and we could not get through.”

But maybe there was one among them, one more who believed Ratzinger would be Pope, or had a premonition. “It is true. Last August (2004), after years during which it was our dining-room manager Roman who served the Cardinal, this time it was Hans, our family cook, who wanted to bring the crepes himself to the Cardinal because he said he had never served a cardinal before. Maybe he felt something… ”

In any case, at the Gruener Baum, nobody wants to believe that a beautiful story that began long ago in 1968 could end through a ‘joke’ of the Holy Spirit.

“I believe that Benedict XVI will come back to Bressanone,” says Stremitzer, “either because he has many beautiful memories here (his sister Maria who served as his principal point of reference for years loved this land), or because their mother was born near here, at Rio Pusteria, or even because he has a sincere friendship with our bishop, Wilhelm Egger, whom he has known for more than 15 years.

"And also I believe that the very nature of our land makes it possible that Benedict could consider it the bridge between is Bavarian past and his present role as the Universal Pastor. If he would then wish to come and visit us in this hotel, I don’t know if we will be able to contain our emoitons nor if our clientele would,” says Stremitzer.

We ended the interview just as the joyous pealing of the bells from the Cathedral - which is literally just a few steps away - came through the open windows.

Burghart Stremitzer certainly did not expect our last question: "Would you place Palatshcinken Benedict XVI on your menu?” Short pause with head bent.

“Well, we will do something…A client had suggested we use the Pope’s picture on the menu…I don’t know. We’ll think of something.”

They could not do less. For the most illustrious guest in 210 years of the Gruener Baum’s history, Burghart Stremitzer, this elegant 68-year-old man with genuinely noble manners, will think of something. If only the Pope would return to Bressanone… ...

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Well, he'll be there next week, and I'm sure there will be an new article soon - or there already is - about the Gruener Baum and the Stremnitzers.

Available photos of the bedrooms in the Gruener Baum are from its present incarnation as a Best Western hotel, so it wouldn't be what the rooms were in the 1960s-1970s.

00Thursday, July 24, 2008 12:44 AM
We'll be there too!
Hey, girls, we are going to Brixen too! We’ll stay there from Aug, 2nd till Aug, 11th. We are supposed to get tickets (hopefully) for the Angelus prayer on the 3rd of August. The hotel was so kind to pick the tickets up for us (hopefully). I phoned the hotel yesterday, they assured they got the tickets. We applied for seats (St. Horst can’t stand for hours) but I am not sure, if we finally got tickets for seats. I also really would like to know, if there is a kind of layout of the cathedral’s square. The woman at the hotel mentioned something of different blocks like A, B or so.
And, please forgive my goofy question, I don’t know, if the tickets are also for the Mass said by the bishop Egger before Papa will pray the Angelus. I guess so, but I am not sure.
Anyway, I am all excited and I am looking forward to a nice vacation we’ll have so close to Papa and I really would be pleased to meet you girls plus husbands once in Brixen.

By the way, thank you, Teresa, for the very informative articles and the beautiful photo of the cathedral in Brixen.

[SM=x40790] [SM=x40790] [SM=x40790] [SM=x40790] [SM=x40790] [SM=x40790] [SM=x40790] [SM=x40790] [SM=x40790] [SM=x40790] [SM=x40790] [SM=x40790] [SM=x40790] [SM=x40790]

00Thursday, July 24, 2008 2:26 AM
[SM=x40794] [SM=x40794] [SM=x40794] [SM=x40794] [SM=x40794] [SM=x40794] [SM=x40794] [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828] [SM=g27824] [SM=g27824] [SM=g27824] [SM=g27824] [SM=g27824] [SM=g27824] [SM=g27824] Benevolens and Simone (with husbands) in Bressanone at the same time!!! WOW! I am sooo very happy for both of you... and anyone else that is able to get there. [SM=x40794] [SM=x40794] [SM=x40794] [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828] [SM=g27824] [SM=g27824] [SM=g27824]
00Thursday, July 24, 2008 7:12 AM
Bressanone Bound ...
Wow!  So many wonderful Benedict fans (plus husbands) in Bressanone with Papa.  How beautiful and the giant photos of the valley and square are magnificent ... just to look at it makes me feel serene.

Girls, have a beautiful time and hope you all get together ... plus photos!

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00Thursday, July 24, 2008 7:29 AM
Re: We'll be there too!
Simone55, 24.07.2008 00:44:

And, please forgive my goofy question, I don’t know, if the tickets are also for the Mass said by the bishop Egger before Papa will pray the Angelus. I guess so, but I am not sure.
Anyway, I am all excited and I am looking forward to a nice vacation we’ll have so close to Papa and I really would be pleased to meet you girls plus husbands once in Brixen.

Simone, from what I could gather from the information on the diocese of Bressanone website, the tickets are for the mass too. As for different sectors on the square, I expect it will be the same as in Lorenzago last year: There were 3 sectors, the one closest to the altar (sector 'A') reserved for Lorenzago residents, the 'B' sector for other visitors from the region and the 'C' sector for foreign pilgrims.
By the way, we'll also be there from August 2nd to 11th!

00Thursday, July 24, 2008 12:29 PM

Thank you, girls, for all your good wishes and for sharing the joy with us.

Thank you, benevolens, for your further information. So it will be as I have expected. Since we will be there at the same time, I would like to meet you once. That would be nice. Hopefully we can arrange something. [SM=x40801]

00Friday, July 25, 2008 12:18 AM
Simone and Benevolens!

So you will both be there! I'm sure you are only going to Brixen because it's such a beautiful place for a holiday.....Um!!???? [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828]

Saint Horst and Saint Max - do you realise what you have let yourselves in for?

I look forward to hearing all about it!
Luff, Mary [SM=g27824] [SM=g27824] [SM=g27824]
00Saturday, July 26, 2008 4:35 PM

Hosting the Pope's Summer Vacation, July 28-August 11, 2008

Finally, we have something more definitive about the Holy Father's Tyrolean ancestry and new knowledge about his mother, from no less than brother Georg, who speaks about it all to Fr. Josef Gelmi, for his book Die Paepste mit dem Namen Benedikt, published recently, as reported on this thread several weeks ago. This excerpt was published in Italian on the site of the Comune di Bressanone.

The Tyrolese origins of Joseph Ratzinger
by Josef Gelmi
Translated from

Die Päpste mit dem Namen Benedikt
Weger, Bressanone 2008

The election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the Pontifical Seat on April 19, 2005, was cause for great joy in the Alto Adige, and in particular, at the Seminario Maggiore in Bressanone, because the new Pope was very close to that institution and to the region.

Ratzinger was born in Marktl am Inn, in the Diocese of Passau, as the third-born child of the police commissar Joseph Ratzinger and his wife Maria Peintner.

His mother was born on January 8, 1884 in Muehlbach, Bavaria, a graceful village in the municipality of Kiefersfelden, parish of Oberaudorf, district of Rosenheim.

Following the custom in those days, Maria Peintner was baptized the same day she was born by the parish priest Dismas Nigg at Oberaudorf. Her godmother was Magdalena Gabenstaetter.

Papa Ratzinger's mother grew up in Rimsting, also in the district of Rosenheim, where she lived for 30 years until November 9, 1920* when she married Joseph Ratzinger and moved with him to Pleiskirchen. She died on December 16, 1963, in Traunstein.

*[That would be from 1890-1920 - indicating a six-year period after she was born, which corresponds to previous accounts that she lived the first few years of her life in Rio Pusteria. She was born in Bavaria because her mother was an unwed woman who sought assistance at childbirth in Muehlbach. An account of this was previously posted on this thread from an informal history of the Ratzinger family written by a resident of Rimsting.]

In a conversation with Peter Seewald, Ratzinger himself, then a Cardinal, said, "My mother had Tyrolean origins".

Georg Ratzinger, the Pope's brother, says of their mother:

"She was the oldest of eight children and her childhood was one of privation. Her day would begin in the middle of the night. Besides working in her parents' bakery, making bread and 'brezn' everyday, she also had to take care of her younger brothers and sisters.

"In order to help with the family income, she was soon sent to work for others. Our mother was a cook, a good-hearted woman, with a great disposition and beautiful features. She could do a little of everything, she had great imagination as well as a great practical sense, so that in her hands, really extraordinary things took shape from virtually nothing. She owed her skills as a cook to her mother whose motto was "Every woman should know how to cook!'

"Our mother worked as a cook for a blind violinist in Salzburg, then for a General Zech in Wiesbaden. Then she worked at the Hotel Wittelsbach in Munich, where she was in charge of preparing desserts.

"Much later [as a married woman], she worked for two seasons as a cook for the Pension Glueck im Winkl, in Reit am Winkl. She had to contribute to the family finances because our father's pension was very modest and we children needed money for our schooling.

"For a time, she also worked in Kufstein. I met the lady she worked for, who used to tell her, 'Dear girl, do not forget that the Tyrol has gathered the angels together'. This made my mother very happy because of her South Tyrol roots".

Maria Peintner-Ratzinger's mother - the Pope's maternal grandmother - was Maria Tauber-Peintner. She was born on June 29, 1855, at Rasa, near Bressanone, to Anton Peter Peintner of Aica and Elisabeth Maria Tauber of Rasa. They were married on February 11, 1858 in the Church of Sant'Elena in Rio di Pusteria.

Maria Tauber left the Tyrol for Muehlbach in Kiefersfelden, Bavaria. [Interestingly, the German name for Rio di Pusteria is Muehlbach].

On June 23, 1885 [more than a year after the Pope's mother was born], Maria Tauber-Peintner and Isidor Rieger passed the pre-nuptial examination by the parish priest Joseph Sailer in Rio di Pusteria. The document says, "The bride is well instructed in religion."

They were married on July 13, 1885, in Absam, near Innsbruck. The couple then moved to Rimsting where they opened a bakery. [The story in the earlier account was that they were forced to leave Rio di Pusteria after a terrible flood ruined their business.] They lived to see all their eight children well settled.

Georg Ratzinger describes his maternal grandmother thus: "She was a rather robust lady, a strong one. When she frowned, the corners of her mouth were turned down severely. She could be very brusque."

Ida Langer, a cousin of the Ratzinger brothers, said of her grandmother:

"She spent her entire youth in Rio di Pusteria. The last ten years of her life - she died in 1930 - she lived in my parents' house in Rimsting. We took care of her and we loved her very much. She would tell us marvelous stories about Val Pusteria, and how a mill on the Isar river was carried away by floodwaters one day, reducing the family to poverty.

"Later, my grandparents bought a bakery in Rimsting - in 1890. It was a small one, they started very small, but they succeeded in growing the business by hard work. Their eight children, including my mother, delivered the bread in wicker baskets to customers as far as Harras (now a part of Prien) and would make the return journey, still on foot, up the Ratzinger Heights. [Isn't it providential that the family settled in the area known by that name?] They would leave home as early as 5 a.m. to make these deliveries - three loaves here, two loaves there...."

The Pope's grandmother died on June 17, 1930, at age 75. Georg Ratzinger recalls, "At the funeral in Rimsting, my parents were there with us three children."

Prof. Gelmi presented a copy of his book to Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on June 11, 2008.

The Comune di Bressanone site has posted another excerpt from the Gelmi book:

Pope Benedict XVI and Bressanone
by Canon Johannes Messner
Translated from

At the Seminario Maggiore, summer of 2001: From left, Ivo Muser, Josef Michaeler, Joseph Ratzinger, Georg Ratzinger, Prof. Karl Golser and Serafin Troi. From Gelmi's book.

It gives me pleasure to retrace the roots of important contemporaries, like the famous Milanese Cardinal Blessed Ildefonso Schuster (+ 1954), whose grandfather came from Vila di Sopra, in Val Pusteria, and whose mother was from Auna di Sotto.

The same interest led me to Toll di Rasa, from where Pope Benedict XVI's maternal grandmother originally came. And it is true that one can find 'altoatesini' (natives of Alto Adige) or their descendants almost everywhere.

But beyond his South Tyrolean roots, Pope Benedict XVI has also vacationed several times in Alto Adige, he knows the land and its people, and has spent several restful vacations in Bressanone.

In 1967, a year and a half after the end of the Second Vatican Council, the seminary rectors of the German-speaking area in Italy gathered at the Seminario Maggiore for a conference on the role of priests.

One lecturer stood out - Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, not yet 40, then professor at the University of Tuebingen who had served as a theologian adviser at Vatican-II.

In hsi two lectures, given at the baroque library of the Seminary, he spoke about the role of the priest on the basis of the New Testatment and the Vatican-II decree on the priesthood.

Also a conference participant was the scretary for the Rome-based Congregation of Seminaries, Joseph Schroeffer, who was responsible for obtaining pontifical recognition for the Seminary's academic courses.

In 1990, Joseph Ratzinger - who was by then a Cardinal, who had been Archbishop of Munich and Freising, and now Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - was in Bressanone as the moderator of a symposium on choral and polyphonic music organized by the Brixen Musik und Kirche initiative.

On September 28, he gave the introductory lecture on Biblical indications regarding sacred music. The following Sunday, Sept. 30, he celebrated a Pontifical Mass at the Cathedral with the participation of the Regensburger Domspatzen under the direction of the cardinal's brother, Mons. Georg Ratzinger.

After that, there was a program in his honor at Piazza Duomo (Cathedral Square) followed by a reception in the adjoining inner courtyard of the Seminary.

Between 1968 and 1976, Fr. Ratzinger came back to Bressanone several times, staying at the Gruene Baum, the Stemnitzers' hotel, with his brother Georg and their sister Maria.

It was 1977, the year he was named Archbishop of Munich and Cardinal shortly thereafter, when he lodged for the first time in the Seminario Maggiore, along with Elmar Maria Kreder (+ 2008), who had recently been named Archbishop of Bamberg. On their first day in Bressanone, the city's musical band played at the Seminary to honor the two illustrious guests.

During his stays at the Seminary, the Cardinal celebrated Mass every day at the nuns' chapel of the Seminary. On Sundays, he would be with his brother and sister in the first row of pews at the foot of the monument to Archbishop Johannes Geisler. On Sunday afternoons, he would be in the same place for the recital of the Rosary. More than anything else, I was struck by his presence for the recital of the Rosary. Also, Cardinal Ratzinger regularly attended the concerts that were held at the Cathedral or in the seminary chapel.

It was during a vacation in Bressanone that the interview-book Rapporto sulla fede came to be, when the Cardinal spoke to journalist Vittorio Messori during three days before the Feast of the Assumption. The interview was done at the seminary and went on mornings and afternoons, recorded on tape, according to Prof. Karl Golser who was present at the sessions. The resulting book was published in the spring of 1985 by Edizioni San Paolo.

It is now well-known that the Cardinal finished the draft of the first four chapters of JESUS OF NAZARETH during his Bressanone vacation in August 2004. Therefore, it is legitimate to wonder which work will occupy Pope Benedict XVI this time....

The Cardinal's walks generally took him along the Isarco river, in both directions (north and south), and he has visited Costa d'Elvas, various convents and churches in Bressanone and its environs, the Abbey of Novacella, and the Capuchin convent (where Fr. Josaphat Wieser offered him a welcome concert).

His excursions in the area have taken him to San Romedio, Pietralba, Val Gardena, the Siusi Alps, Braies lake, S. Giacomo di Castellaz, the parish church of Valdurna in Val Sarentino, Tyrol Castle, the Convent of Monte Maria and the Church of the Holy Spirit in Predoi.

In the Seminary, he spent much time reading or wrting in the garden, in a shaded area which is now known as Ratzingerplatz.

He was always a very amiable guest, without any pretensions, one who was truly happy to be in the Seminary and to be in the company of the priests and seminarians with whom he ate his meals at the Kammerle, the Seminary's dining hall.

He has been at the Seminary as a guest under four rectors - Johann Mayr, Artur Vinatzer, Alois Gurndin and now, Ivo Muser.

An unhappy incident marekd his vacation in 1992. He was about to go to the Seminary garden for an interview with RAI's Markus Perwanger when he apparently collapsed, hitting a corner of his desk. When the usually prompt Cardinal failed to show up on time, I went to find out what was holding him back, and realizing what had happened, I immediately called his brother. He had a wound on his forehead because of the fall, and of course, he had to be brought to the hospital. Doctors and nurses there remember fondly his patience, his humility, and his elegance.

It was my assignment to take a souvenir picture whenever the Cardinal took his farewell of the Seminary after a vacation. With his visit this year, Papa Ratzinger is fulfilling tne promise ha made before he left us in 2004, that he would come back for yet another vacation here.

Welcome back, Holy Father!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

And thanks to


...along with sample souvenirs to be found in Bressanone these days.

Profile of Milly:
The seminary mascot is spoiled by everyone -
she eats a lot but only what she likes!

Black as coal, with two lively green eyes, a slim and agile body, and a gregarious character - that's Milly, the mascot of the Seminario Maggiore, known to Joseph Ratzinger since he first came as a lodging guest here, and known to have been the object of his coddling.

It wasn't easy to find her. In the hot summer days, she loves to wander around the seminary grounds and even along the river. Those who are familiar with her say she has always been a 'free spirit' who can be rather haughty. Some call her 'the diva' of the seminary.

"We all spoil her here," the seminarians say, "but even the rest of the neighborhood does."

And she may be slim but she eats a lot. "Only what she likes, though. If you gave her tuna, shw won't even come near it!"

Her old friend, now the Pope, probably will keep that in mind.

00Saturday, July 26, 2008 10:41 PM

A Gathering of Benaddicts

I really do hope that you girls who are lucky enough to be going to Bressanone manage to get together, at least for a collective toast to Papa. So far, the ones I know of who are going are friendly, kindly souls who would probably all like each other and enjoy swapping stories about their sightings of Papa. What a lot of fun that would be.

If you do all manage to get together, toast him for the rest of us too. We, of course, will expect to be hearing some interesting stories afterward and see some delightful photos--of Papa and of you girls (and sainted husbands).

Have a great time!

00Monday, July 28, 2008 9:32 AM
benefan, 26.07.2008 22:41:

A Gathering of Benaddicts

Have a great time!

Thank you, benefan. Simone55 and I have already swapped phone numbers, I expect we're bound to bump into more forum members once in Bressanone. We'll do our best to represent the forum well! [SM=x40799]

00Monday, July 28, 2008 6:24 PM

"We'll do our best to represent the forum well!" [SM=x40799]



00Monday, July 28, 2008 10:53 PM

Layout of the Square

Here is a link to a layout of the Cathedral Square in Brixen during Papa's Angelus. It is on the Brixen website. Click on the map to enlarge.


00Tuesday, July 29, 2008 4:10 PM
Gathering of the Forum!!!!
It will be a real gathering of the forum in Brixen [husbands too!]. How I wish I could be there; I bet Clare and I would raid that gift shop! [SM=g27824] [SM=g27824] [SM=g27824] We can't resist those places. I did look at the map and wonder how I could reach Brixen; yes, I think it would have to be via Venice. Perhaps next year it may be possible. I expect the girls from northern Italy will be there.
I can hardly wait to hear reports from all of you!
[SM=g27816] [SM=g27816] [SM=g27816]
Luff und choy, Mary [SM=g27811] [SM=g27811] [SM=g27811]
00Thursday, July 31, 2008 5:52 PM

The Pope on Vacation, July 28-August 11, 2008

If the Pope cannot
go out for crepes...

by Karl Birkenseer
Translated from

July 29, 2008

The Ratzinger brothers stop at a roadside Crucifix during their Brixen vacation in 2001.

Why is the Pope vacationing in Brixen (Bressanone)? Because it is a venerable episcopal city? Because tourists have always been attracted to its wonderful atmosphere? Or perhaps because the region speaks a German that is much like Bavarian German?

Each of those may have a role. But the true reason is Georg Ratzinger, the Pope's brother, who has said, "We aren't folks who must always go some place else."

[The older brother was unable to join the Pope in Les Combes and Lorenzago, which are both at altitudes above 1000 meters - apparently because of his cardiac condition - whereas Brixen lies at about 500 meters only.]

Benedict VXI is in this South Tyrol city of 19,000 for the first time as Pope, but he has been here ten times as cardinal and even earlier as professor and archbishop - usually with his siblings, brother Georg, now 84, former director of the Regensburg boys choir; and their sister Maria (until she died in 1991).

Even if the circumstances are different this time - papal security and protocol being what they are - Mons. Georg is convinced that his brother will still want to retrace yesterday's footsteps "so that he can relive beautiful memories - which is good for the health".

To relive the memories of over four decades, the brothers' holiday lodging is a good start. The Pope is occupying the so-called Bishop's Apartment, all of 60 square meters, while his brother will be in an adjoining guest room at the city's Seminario Maggiore, where they have stayed as hliday lodgers since 1977.

"Some years, I stayed in a room without its own bath," the monsignor says, "and in 2004, I finally had a room with a shower, but then, the next year, my brother became Pope" [so he has not been back].

But it isn't just the lodgings which are a bridge to previous Brixen vacations. Both brothers are passionate about good South Tyrolean cuisine. Especially the pancakes with cranberry filling [in all other stories, the Pope's favorite crepe filling here is said to be myrtleberry] at the Gruener Baum hotel.

Mons. Georg doubts whether Vatican security will allow them to enjoy this pleasure as before.

But he has not reckoned with Christine Stemnitzer! "If the Pope cannot come here for his pancakes, then the pancakes will come to the Pope," says the hotel owner.

Her receptionist, Frau Miriam, chimes in: "We will try in any case to make sure the Holy Father gets his favorite dessert."

Another culinary site favored by the brothers in the past was the Hotel Elephant [whose historic guest book includes Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria and Empress Charlotte Alezandra of Russia]. There, "in the first building on the square", they would always come on Sundays to partake of the exquisite local cuisine.

According to deputy manager Tomasso Tettamanti, the brothers' favorite dishes included bollito misto(a stew of beef, pigs' feet, calf's tongue and chicken) and the house specialty Kastanienschmarrn (a dessert based on chestnuts).

A question to the Vatican asking whether there was a possibility the Pope could come by was answered negatively, but once again, the receptionist, this time, Frau Petra, is optimistic.

What the Pope will be doing in the next two weeks is, of course, not publicized. Upon his arrival Monday, he thanked the residents for their 'warmhearted welcome' and said, "I am very happy to be with you in this beautiful city, where I have spent so many vacations. Let us hope that together we can have a good vacation and can enjoy together the beauty of the city and the beauties of Creation."

Benedict is still recovering from his demanding trip to Sydney for World Youth Day. But Georg Ratzinger is sure that the Pope will use his free time to work on the second part of his book JESUS OF NAZARETH.

[Some info here about the Pope's known public events in Bressanone]

After 14 days in Brixen, the Pope will return to his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, as will Mons. Georg [who has spent the past three summers in Castel Gandolfo].

He hopes that security and protocol requirements will not cut too much into the enjoyment of their holiday. He knows that their usual walks through the city must now "take place in more out-of-the-way places".

Perhaps they will be able to revisit Saeben convent above Klausen, where they used to go visit its former Abbess, Sr. Marcellina Pustet, who comes from Regensburg.

Then there's the matter of the piano. While it is well-known that the Pope likes to play, usually his beloved Mozart, his older brother - a gifted pianist and organist - remarks, "When I am around, he does not like to play as much." Or, as in previous times, it is more likely that Georg will play for his brother.

Georg plays the harmonium for his brother.

P.S. I found this out about the 'elephant' in the Hotel's name:

In 1550, King John of Portugal decided to give a “little” gift to the Emperor Ferdinand of Austria, so he purchased an elephant in India, shipped it to Genoa, then planned to walk it to Austria. This giant beast grew weary about the time it reached Bressanone and was stabled for two weeks at the Am Hohen Feld Inn.

Young and old came from far and wide to see this impromptu circus. The proprietor of the Am Hohen Feld was obviously a master at marketing: to maintain the fame of his establishment, he promptly renamed his hotel — you guessed it — the Elephant. A picture of our friend the elephant was painted on the front of the building to commemorate the sensational event.

But even without an elephant story this hotel is a winner with its old-fashioned charm. The sitting room, hallways, and dining rooms (three cozy rooms) incorporate antiques, museum-quality paintings, and magnificent paneling. The Elephant is also well known for its good food—fresh fruits come from the adjacent walled garden where you also find the swimming pool and an old home that has been converted into very nice bedrooms

What else do we know
of the Pope's holiday so far?

Translated from

Posted on Lella's blog

BRESSANONE, July 30 - Second day of the Pope's holiday in Alto Adige.

Groups of faithful, many of them tourists, continue to wait in front of the Seminario Maggiore in the hope of seeing the Pope.

Awaiting Benedict XVI's next public event (after his very public welcome on monday), the city is all yellow and white. The Vatican flags are flying even at the modern aquatic park Acquarena - and not even the most distracted resident or tourist can miss the fact that the Pope is here, where he feels 'at home', having been here on holiday so often in the past.

People are hoping he will appear at the window as he did after he arrived Monday, or take a walk through city streets even if with security escort!

Burghart Steinitzer, of the Gruener Baum hotel-restaurant, has hosted the Ratzinger brothers since 1968. In fact, they stayed at his hotel during their Bressanone holidays before Joseph Ratzinger became Archbishop, after which he had to stay at the Seminario Maggiore.

"The last time they came to our restaurant was in August 2004," he recounts. "At that time, we spoke about so many memories linked to their holidays in the Alto Adige, especially in the 1970s, when they vacationed with their sister."

Besides the myrtle jam-filled crepes that he loves, the Pope also loved canederli and spaetzli (German-style gnocchi and noodles, respectively), Steimnitzer recalls. He thinks that the Pope may well drop in this time with his entourage, but unannounced.

Not far from the Seminary is a bakery belonging to Alex and Silke Monopoli, who have created the book-like cake iced with a portrait of the Pope. "It was really meant to pretty up the display window," Alex says, but they have sold quite a few, even at 50 euro!

They also offer marzipans iced with the image of the Pope and the seminary, which sell for 5 euro.

At the optician's shop nearby, Albuin Brugger recalls that 10 years ago, Cardinal Ratzinger came in, with his brother Georg, to have his eyeglasses repaired because 'one of the pieces resting over the nose had broken off'.

Along the arcade, the tourists are swarming the souvenir shops for papal memorabilia.

Luis Ueberbacher, at Trigon Art, says the most popular items are postcards showing the Pope in front of the Seminary, at 30 to 50 cents apiece; calendars, at 3 euros; mugs with tthe Pope's image, 8 euros; mini-globes featuring the Pope's face, at 4.50; keychains, at 6.50; jigsaw puzzles, at 7.50; and candles at 7.50-12.50.

A few other details translated
from an account in

One can get an idea of the Pope's day because of indications like those from the baker who provides bread to the seminary and the newspaper kiosk that sends over newspapers.

Baker Stephan Mutschlechner says, "As a cardinal, he always liked our special bread called Wikinger, and he has asked for it this time to be delivered every morning. The order comes from the seminary in the afternoon: white bread, grission with olives, but above all, the Wikinger, which is made with sunflower and sesame seeds."

"One of our shop attendants," he says, "remembers serving the cardinal often in the past, when he would come to buy some Wikinger and then compliment her for the excellence of the bread."

"I don't think he can find it in Rome," he adds.

The bread is delivered every morning between 5:15 and 5:30, and is left with the security on duty. Stephan says the instructions are that the bakery van must be driven by the same person all the time and that he must come on time.

Just before 7 a.m., two guards come from the Seminary to the tobacconist Cusanus, where they get two bundles of newspapers - one for the Pope, the other for Mons. Gaenswein.

"I had known for two weeks that I would be providing the dailies to the Seminary during the Pope's visit," says owner Martin Gasser, "but it was still a strange sensation the first time I had to address the parcels for the Pope! To think that the Pope would be reading the newspapers that came from my shop gives me a satisfaction I never experienced before."

On its Page 1 today,

had this one-column story on
the Pope's vacation, anticipating
the Angelus on Sunday.

A sidebar speculates on possible
excursion sites for the Pope, but
it doesn't pay to translate until
he has actually visited a place.

00Saturday, August 2, 2008 6:00 AM


Not the world's best quality video but a pleasant song about a place we all have come to love.


00Sunday, August 3, 2008 1:47 AM

I have usually tried to set the scene for a papal trip outside Rome with a geographic-cultural
profile of the place, but I was not able to do that properly for Australia and Sydney, nor for
Bressanone. Let me do that now. First, the location.

I picked up this map from Beatrice, which locates Bressanone and the Alto Adige/Suedtirol region appropriately.
A little to the east is Auronzo di Cadore, which is a fair indication of the location of last year's papal vacation
site, Lorenzago. (Auronzo is where Papino met with the clergy of the Veneto). However, the map does not include
Introd-Les Combes in Val D'Aosta, farther to the west of the region shown here.

Both travel articles I have found on Bressanone are excellent but old - the Herald-Trib article from 1998 and the New York Times article from 1994. But almost everything they report is still relevant. Unfortunately, no photos come with the archived articles, so the photos used here are mostly from the Bressanone-Brixen Tourism Association.

Ancient city of Bressanone
a strategic and cultural landmark:
History on view in South Tirol

By Roderick Conway Morris

Published October 16, 1998

BRESSANONE, Italy - The most ancient city in the South Tirol, Bressanone is the most beautiful and best preserved of the larger towns in the province.

In a glorious mountain setting at an altitude of more than 1,800 feet (560 meters) it is pleasantly cool in summer, and has an average of three times as many sunny days as Vienna.

There was a settlement here in the Dark Ages called Prichsna, and in the Middle Ages it was recorded as both Pressena and Brixina, the former giving rise to the modern Italian name Bressanone and the latter to today's German name, Brixen (the majority of the inhabitants being German-speaking).

Bressanone's position at the confluence of the rivers Eisack and Rienz on the southern side of the Brenner Pass and at the head of the Eisack Valley — the Emperor's Way that linked Germany and Italy — gave it strategic importance, and the Holy Roman Emperors were anxious to make sure it remained in friendly hands.

Although it was already the seat of a bishopric as early as 970, Emperor Conrad II made Bressanone a prince-bishopric and the capital of the Tirol in 1027. Thus the prince-bishops were endowed with extensive lands and secular as well as religious authority.

Although the prince-bishops' powers and lands were gradually eroded by the rise of the counts of Tirol, and the Austrian Habsburgs became their overlords on the death of the son of the last countess of Tirol, the prince-bishops continued to rule Bressanone until 1803.

They left their indelible stamp on almost every aspect of this former ecclesiastical principality, which maintains a timeless, almost Ruritanian air.

The old town is still confined within the area of its original 11th-century walls and has for the most part defied incursions from the 20th century.

Soaring above the central square is the prince-bishops' majestic twin-towered cathedral. Built and rebuilt on the first 10th-century cathedral site, it was completely restructured and given a gorgeous baroque interior in the mid-18th century, and an elaborate neo-classical portico was added as late as 1790.

The attached medieval cloister with its extensive and diverting frescoes painted between the 13th and 15th centuries was fortunately left intact.

On the north side of the cathedral is the more modest St. Michael's Church with its Gothic exterior, baroque interior and soaring bell-tower and spire.

Across the main square is the prince-bishops' palace, an unusually successful blend of the Renaissance and the baroque, the palatial and domestic. The spacious inner court is lined with brilliantly modeled terra-cotta statues by the sculptor Hans Reichle (1570-1642) representing prominent Habsburgs through the ages. The palace's 70 rooms now contain a fine museum of Tirolese art.

Beyond the square on the north side is the charming Grosse Lauben (Great Arcades), since the Middle Ages the town's principal shopping street. The stores beneath the arches overflow with tempting local produce from hams, cheeses and sausages to wild mushrooms, woodland berries and wines.

Also off the square, at 3 Domgasse, is the celebrated Finsterwirt (called Oste Scuro in Italian). The building dates from the 13th century and has been an inn since the beginning of the last century. It now consists of two restaurants; the one downstairs has a shady garden and is an ideal place to sample local dishes.

The patronage of the prince-bishops and the burghers of Bressanone made the city the most important artistic center in the Tirol, and its key position on the route between Germany and central Europe opened it to influences from both north and south.

The outstanding Renaissance product of this cultural exchange was Michael Pacher, who was active in the region from at least the early 1460s until shortly before his death in Salzburg in 1498.

Pacher was both a wood sculptor, carving being a sophisticated traditional art form in the area, and a painter. He combined both arts to stunning effect in monumental altarpieces, achieving architectural scale and drama with a profound sense of humane individuality and intimacy.

Pacher traveled to Italy and was clearly influenced by Donatello, Filippino Lippi and Mantegna, whose works he encountered in Padua. He absorbed their lessons in such a way as to make them an integral part of his own distinctive vision. Scarcely less worthy of attention are some of Pacher's associates, notably the master of Uttenheim and Freidrich Pacher, who may or may not have been related to Michael.

A significant part of Michael Pacher's and his associates' work is still in the South Tirol. But changes in taste, and especially the remodeling of churches in the baroque style, meant that many of the works found their way to galleries outside the region, mainly in Austria and Germany, with some going as far afield as Israel and Australia.

Novacella Abbey (Neustift), historically one of the Tirol's leading patrons of the arts and Wolkenstein's last resting place, can be reached from Bressanone by a one-hour leisurely stroll through orchards and vineyards along the banks of the Eisack, or a 10-minute bus ride.

THE Augustinian abbey was founded by the prince-bishop the Blessed Hartmann in 1142. It has a flamboyant pink and gold baroque church, gilded library and many other curious features.

In the middle of the main court is a singular fountain with external frescoes of the Seven Wonders of the World and, by the main gate, the fortified round chapel of St. Michael inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

The abbey is also famous for its Sylvaner white wine, cultivated in the surrounding vineyards in a microclimate so delicate that only a kilometer to the north it is too cold to grow grapes. This wine, and those from the abbey's vineyards elsewhere in the South Tirol, can be bought to take away; their aromatic bouquets, when encountered in distant places, are certain instantly to transport any drinker back to this delightful region.

Kings and emperors passed this way

Published: January 2, 1994

MOTORISTS driving on Italy's National Highway 12 near the Austrian border see a big sign on the northern outskirts of Bressanone-Brixen with the outline of an elephant and an arrow. It points the way to the Elefant Hotel, named after one of the town's most famous visitors.

In December of 1550, an Indian elephant was trudging up to the 4,495-foot-high Brenner Pass, 27 miles to the north. The animal was a gift from King John III, the Fortunate, of Portugal to Emperor Ferdinand I; it had been shipped from Goa, then a Portuguese colony, to Genoa, and was being driven through the mountains in the same way Hannibal's African elephants crossed another section of the Alps nearly 1,800 years earlier.

In Bressanone-Brixen the pachyderm's handlers let it rest for two weeks in the barn of the High Field Inn, causing a local sensation. The inn's owner, the postmaster, Andra Posch, at once changed the name of his business to 'Inn at the Sign of the Elephant' and commissioned a local painter, Lenhard Mair, to commemorate the event.

The fresco portraying the animal and its escort of turbaned Indians can still be seen on the street facade of the hotel's old wing. (The stoic elephant did make it to the imperial court in Vienna by late 1551, and would live another few years.)

The core of Bressanone, its Old Town, looks essentially the same today as it did when the elephant passed through.

The narrow, arcaded houses with their bow windows and battlements on Grosse Lauben (Via Portici Maggiori), Kleine Lauben (Via Portici Minori) and the side alleys are from the 15th and 16th centuries. The covered passageways, however, shelter espresso bars, restaurants, fashion boutiques and other smart stores. Three stout gates of the medieval walls survive.

Bressanone is, in fact, the oldest town in Italy's autonomous province of Alto Adige-Sudtirol. The 430,000 inhabitants of that picturesque area south of the main crest of the Central Alps speak three languages -- the Tyrolean version of German, Venetian-tinged Italian and Ladin, an ancient idiom related to the Romansch of St. Moritz and nearby areas of Switzerland.

Predominantly German-speaking, Alto Adige enjoys a measure of self-government and with the autonomous province of the Trentino to its south, where only Italian is spoken, forms a region that has more independence from the central Government in Rome than other Italian regions.

Bressanone, which until 1918 belonged to Austria-Hungary, is bilingual. Street signs are in Italian and German, and business is done everywhere in both languages. There are separate Roman Catholic services in German and Italian; churches and chapels abound.

The ecclesiastical complex, only a few steps from the arcaded, pedestrian-only area, has a cathedral, three other churches and chapels, a splendidly frescoed cloister and an impressive episcopal palace with a wall and moat.

The town has seen plenty of traffic during the 1,000 years of its recorded history. Sixty-six kings and emperors came through here on their way south to be crowned by the Pope, to embark on a crusade or to meddle in some Italian power struggle.

Millions of other travelers, following one of Europe's principal north-south routes, also passed through over the centuries, and quite a few stopped here for the night or for a longer stay.

Today Bressanone-Brixen is a winter sports center, and its 17,000 permanent residents welcome plenty of Italian and international guests during the summer months as well. They are drawn by the Alpine Renaissance architecture, the chestnut-lined river promenades and a celebrated spa.

Since the early Middle Ages, Bressanone has been the "Tyrolean Rome" -- a religious center in the Alps. Its bishops once headed the Roman Catholic clergy in a vast crescent-shaped mountain area, and between the 11th century and 1803 were also political rulers as princes of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Many of them came from aristocratic families, and some from the imperial House of Hapsburg.

The bishops administered their large territory through hereditary bailiffs -- noblemen who had their own castles and henchmen and often did very much as they pleased.

Bressanone's Cathedral Square still conveys a sense of clerical power, although the bishops have resided since 1973 in Bolzano-Bozen, the capital of the bilingual province.

The square's east side is dominated by the twin-towered Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Most of the edifice was rebuilt in triumphant Baroque style in the middle of the 18th century at the site of a medieval basilica; only the two towers are older than the bulk of the present structure.

The other sides of Cathedral Square are taken up by the town hall, with its crenelated front, old burgher houses and two cafes with outdoor tables.

To the left of the cathedral is the late-Gothic parish church of St. Michael from the end of the 15th century, with a tall whitish tower crowned with a needle-shaped roof. An arcaded courtyard between the two buildings contains tombstones with reliefs of imperious- or pious-looking prelates of past centuries as well as the town's war memorials.

The right (south) side of the cathedral is adjoined by the famous cloister with recently restored 14th- and 15th-century frescoes representing scenes from the Bible and church history. The frescoes are by various local artists (their identities are a matter of conjecture) and date from various times -- whenever a prelate or some other patron commissioned a panel.

The paintings, therefore, do not constitute a cycle; instead they present random scenes and figures from the Hebrew Bible and the Christian gospels -- Adam and Eve, Moses, Job, the Madonna, the Passion of Jesus, the Apostles. The cloister, around a garden with shrubbery, provides access to the former private chapel of the bishops and to a small baptismal church.

Nearby, on the narrow Domgasse (Cathedral Lane) is an old tavern where members of the cathedral chapter, the ecclesiastical body assisting the bishop, once used to relax. It is known as Finsterwirt, or Dark Host, because it seems the clerical patrons could eat and drink here even after the curfew that the prince-bishop had imposed, as long as no candle or torch was lighted. Thoroughly modernized in the interior, the Dark Host is today a restaurant and cafe with cozy rooms and a pretty courtyard.

The former episcopal residence, the Palace of the Prince-Bishops, a 400-year-old Renaissance palace a short walk to the southwest of Cathedral Square, is now a museum. The ground-floor rooms contain a collection of creches -- statues representing the Nativity -- from three centuries, a total of 10,000 figurines.

The former state rooms of the prince-bishops and the Diocesan Museum, displaying sculptures, paintings and liturgical objects, can be visited on two upper floors. The delightful palace gardens are now a lovingly nursed public park with a profusion of flowers.

In season, much greenery and many flowers are in evidence elsewhere in and around Bressanone; the extended esplanades along the Eisack, or Isarco, River invite strollers and joggers.

The town, 1,834 feet above sea level and surrounded by high mountains, has a dry, sunny and relatively mild climate. (Though it does drop below freezing in winter, it doesn't stay that cold for long, and it's generally sunny.)

During the Victorian era Bressanone was a resort where well-heeled Central Europeans with pulmonary ailments would sojourn. Today, instead, the name Bressanone conjures to Italians the image of a fashionable place to slim, eat healthy food, get plenty of exercise and undergo hydrotherapy and other treatments.

Bressanone's "house mountain," the 8,215-foot-high Mount Plose, is nearby. A road and a funicular go up to spots near the summit of this year-round recreation area, and chairlifts take tourists and skiers farther up.

There are several restaurants at the summit, good more for the view than for the food and the resort area is modern and well developed. The skiing here, while not particularly challenging, is fine for intermediate and even beginning skiers. There are tracks for cross-country skiing at the foot of the mountain near the river.

Wine lovers trek or drive along the east bank of the Eisack upstream for two miles to sample the vintages, mostly white, of the Augustinian canons at Neustift, or Novacella. The canons' monastery, 800 years old, is a cluster of buildings from various epochs surrounded by vineyards and gardens.

Neustift-Novacella, which includes not only a winery but also a boarding school, is noteworthy for its sumptuous library with a gallery and Rococo stucco work and for its curious Chapel of St. Michael.

This circular structure from the 15th century looks like a scale model of Castel Sant'Angelo near the Vatican and was indeed planned to resemble that former papal fortress on the Tiber. St. Michael's is locally called the Engelsburg, or Angel's Castle -- a fitting landmark of the "Tyrolean Rome."


Getting There

Bressanone-Brixen is about four hours by train or car from Milan, Venice or Munich, two hours from Innsbruck. Driving on superhighways instead of on the more scenic national highways will shorten the trip by up to an hour. The area code for Bressanone is 0472; the country and city code are 39-472.

Where to Stay
NB: Prices given are, of course, from 1994. This part is just to give a general idea of other tourist items of interest.

The top establishment is the 500-year-old Elefant, 4 Weisslahnstrasse, with 44 comfortable rooms in the main building and in an annex in the hotel's park across the street. The Elefant, despite its first-class status, is essentially still a Tyrolean inn. A double costs $135 to $155. The hotel is closed from Nov. 15 to Dec. 24 and from Jan. 7 through February.

Dominik, 13 Unterdrittelgasse, looking out on the Rienza River, is small and elegant. Doubles, $116 to $206.

Jarolim, 1 Bahnhofplatz, is opposite the railroad station but quiet, with a swimming pool in its garden and good food. A large, high-ceilinged double is $77 to $90.

At Schwarzer Adler, 2 Kleine Lauben, in the Old Town, a double with bath is $52; without bath, $39.

All four places have restaurants and offer full-board arrangements including room and all meals.

Things to See

The cathedral and the other nearby churches as well as the Cloister are open from 7 A.M. to noon and 3 P.M. to nightfall. Admission is free. The Palace of the Prince-Bishops is open from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M., Monday to Saturday, from March 15 to Oct. 31. Admission: $2.25, children 95 cents.

Eating Out

Local food is an amalgam of Tyrolean and Italian (especially Venetian) cooking: Knodel (large dumplings) in broth or polenta; Speck (flue-cured ham) or Venetian-style liver; pasta dishes or Schlutzkrapfen (spinach-filled ravioli in melted butter). Also, game in season and trout.

The leading restaurant is Fink, 4B Kleine Lauben, 34883, in the Old Town with a cafe and snack bar on the ground floor and dining rooms upstairs in a 220-year-old arcaded building. A recent lunch for two with fine ravioli, veal schnitzel and green salad, with a carafe of red house wine and gelato, was $52. Closed Wednesday.

Elefant, the opulently decorated restaurant of the old hotel, is for serious eaters. Its specialty is the Elefant Platte, a gargantuan composition of mixed grill, sausages, ham and potatoes that serves three to six persons at around $30 a head. Closed Monday and during the hotel's periods of inactivity.

Finsterwirt, 3 Domgasse; 32344. A recent dinner featured South Tyrolean wine soup (a heady concoction of bouillon, egg yolks, white wine and secret ingredients), deer goulash with polenta and apple strudel. The very substantial meal, with more wine, was around $40 for two. Closed on Monday and for dinner on Sunday.

00Sunday, August 3, 2008 12:36 PM
Pasted from Chatter

Oh what a beautiful morning!!!!!
Dear Everyone - I've chust seen the Angelus from Bressanone! Oh how lovely! There were some beautiful close ups of Papa, especially near the end.
I'm glad he started off in German and I thought he was going to deliver the whole address in German, but he moved on to Italian. And then, after the Angelus, his greetings were in the various languages as usual.

My thoughts were with all dear ones there - I thought I saw Paparatzifan in the front row during the Mass, but didn't catch sight of anyone else at all. Almost impossible, with such a large crowd there. Can't wait for one of you to sign in and tell us all about it.......

Belle vacanze! Frohliche Ferien!

Vom Herzen,Luff, Mary xxxxxx
[SM=g27811] [SM=g27811] [SM=g27811] [SM=g27811] [SM=g27811] [SM=g27811] [SM=g27811] [SM=g27811]

I put this message on Chatter, but I'm also hin und weg! Vielleicht ist es besser hier!!!!
00Monday, August 4, 2008 4:16 AM

Pope-mania in Alto Adige:
Numerous sightings imagined

Translated from
Corriere dell'Alto Adige

August 3, 2008

Popemania has afflicted the Alto Adige, with numerous sightings of the Pope reported contemporaneously all over the province.

The sheer desire to see the Pope in any of his many possible excursion sites has given rise to a collective delirium of phantom phantasms.

Around 5 p.m. yesterday. a black car with Vatican plates and dark-tinted windows approached the main entrance to the Seminario Maggiore where the Pope is staying in Bressanone.

Dozens of people who happened to be around immediately flocked to the car and started shouting greetings to the Pope.

"I saw him, I saw him," cried one lady excitedly. "I saw the Pope and he greeted me".

Then the car came to a stop, the door opened - and a gale of laughter swept the small crowd when it turned out the car did not even have a passenger!

At that every moment, while all the policemen and Vatican security who are usually with the Pope whenever he goes out were standing by in front of the seminary - as they have done regularly since Monday when the Pope first arrived - in Badia, the news was spreading that for sure the Pope had come to visit the birthplace in Oies of St. Joseph Freinademetz, the first canonized saint from the region.

The people were positive! Some claimed to have photographed and even filmed him. And they said the town's choir had been called to perform for the Pope.

It turned out all the fuss was really about Magdi Cristiano Allam, who had arrived - with his customary security escort - for a news seminar in the locality.

At the same time, a motorcade with security escorts was seen in San Lorenzo di Sebato. "So many men and so many cars," the report made the rounds. It was indeed a motorcade, but for some local politician.

The same phenomenon was reported last year when the Pope took his vacation in Lorenzago di Cadore, most notably when he was reported one day to have arrived by helicopter at a small Marian shrine on the Austrian border. Even the people of Lorenzago believed that for several hours.

Who knows, the Pope may yet leave the Seminary without anyone outside his inner circle knowing about it - until he gets to his destination!

[That's much less likely now. One week has gone of his vacation - tomorrow, he meets with Cardinal Bertone; Wednesday, he says Mass and meets with the diocesan clergy; Thursday, there will be a ceremony at the seminary at which he will be conferred honorary citizenship by the city; Sunday will be his second Angelus here; and Monday, he returns to Castel Gandolfo. Of course, none of that rules out a brief excursion in the environs. But he has been in Bressanone so often he has most likely seen them all. And if he is making good progress in his writing, sometimes it's not opportune to take a break.

A similar report as the above appeared in Trentino, the regional newspaper of the Repubblica-Espresso group. It adds that in the village of Casere, which has a church dedicated to the Holy Spirit, they are counting on a visit from the Pope on August 5.]

Meanwhile, the Pope may not be out and about in person, but his likeness is everywhere in Bressanone. This is a phenomenon that does not happen for anyone else but the Pope - John Paul II and Benedict VI, in particular - if only for the simple reason that they are visiting. (Oh all right, the Brits do it whenever one of their royals gets married - but did they do it for Queen Elizabeth when she turned 80, when they should have?)

No one does it for the Dalai Lama, iconic as he is. Certainly not for any political leader or monarch. Nor for the Beatles or for Elvis Presley at the peak of their popularity. And even if Mr. Obama may think of himself as the Second Coming, they did not print postcards and posters of him in Berlin.

It must all be infinitely daunting for the Servant of the Servants of God to deal with his aspect of his being 'sui generis'.

His image is everywhere,
His Holiness is!

Bressanone, August 2 (Apcom) - Of course, the photographs of the Pope on postcards and calendars can be found even among the toys, dolls and books of the flea market organized by local children along the sidewalk facing the Seminario Maggiore.

And while Papa Ratzinger has preferred to enjoy the restorative peace and quiet afforded by his four-centuries-old 'lodging house' away from prying eyes, for weeks his image has been the main feature in almost every business in the city.

A tribute to the illustrious guest as well as a way to attract customers, the Pope's face can be seen anywhere you turn in this city.

Naturally, there are all the memorabilia that accompany or follow a Pope whenever he moves - postcards, calendars, candles with his image, rosaries, medals, and in the bookstores and stationers, papal jigsaw puzzles along with books on or by the Pope.

And the inevitable mugs, thimbles, commemorative spoons, plates and glasses, assorted statuettes and figurines. Popular are wooden statues in assorted sizes carved by the skilled artisans of Val Gardena.

Plus T-shirts, sweatshirts, and especially, football-style jerseys in yellow and white, with VATICAN or BENEDETTO 16 markings.

A local bakeshop had a winning idea with his "Welcome to Brixen' marzipan cakes.

Even businesses that have nothing to do with souvenirs or books. have the Pope in mind. A pharmacy has a giant Pope-Photo presiding over a display of apothecary jars and medicinal herbs. A florist has been adding the Pope's photograph to the note cards that go with his bouquets and flower arrangements. A butcher's shop has a photo display among his best sausages of the Pope's arrival in Bressanone.

And a jeweller whose shop is near Piazza Duomo has tastefully displayed commemorative medallions of the Pope with a collection of crosses in gold, silver, and precious stones to separate them from his regular offerings.

The article above does nor come with photos and the available pictures from the news services do not show everything the article describes:

Other small items picked here and there:

- Apcom says that Fr. Lombardi told newsmen who asked today that there are absolutely no plans for the Pope to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel who is also vacationing in the Dolomites.

AFP even scouted out the hotel where Merkel is staying in Sexten-Sesto, a town next to Auronzo di Cadore.

- A local magazine identified the newspapers delivered to the Pope everyday as Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, Il Foglio and Il Messaggero, among the Italian national dailies; Dolomiten (in German) and Alto Adige, among the locals; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, for his German fix; and Avvenire and L'Osservatore Romano. Nothing in English?

For the most part, the stories have tended simply to rehash facts previously reported about the Pope's past visits to Bressanone and his Tyrolean ancestry.

00Tuesday, August 5, 2008 12:53 PM

The Pope manages to
give everyone the slip

by Elisa Pinna

BRESSANONE, Aug. 4 (Translated from ANSA) - The Pope, after a week of voluntary cloistering in the Seminary here, dodged everyone Sunday evening with a sudden excursion to Sant'Andrea, a handful of homes nestled on the mountainside, to pray at the tomb of a missionary friend, Anton Agreiter, who died in 2003.

Quite a trick on all the newsmen, photographers and so many curious onlookers who had been on the lookout for days - since the Pope arrived here Monday, July 28 - for Benedict XVI to emerge in public. [An item in Avvenire today says the Pope eluded his 'watchers' simply by leaving the Seminary through a back gate!]

Equally let down were the residents of Sant'Andrea who even today, for the most part, were unaware that the Pope had been to their village and had stayed for more than half an hour in the vicinity of the old local church a Romanesque-Gothic structure surrounded by teh graves of its parishioners, brilliantly green meadows, cornfields and a galaxy of geraniums, begonia and roses in the summer.

Not even the parish priest was there. Fr. Ernest Jorg, never imagining that the Pope would visit his little church, had decided to go on vacation himself at this time.

The excursion appears to have been a last-minute decision. given the beautiful day and the fact that the Pope had already been at a huge public event that would have satisfied the pent-up expectations of newsmen and local residents alike.

And so, the Pope's discreetly inconspicuous entourage made its way up the mountain unnoticed - and the Pope and his brother were able to take a leisurely walk through the woods undisturbed before going to the church and graveyard of Sant'Andrea.

One of the few witnesses was Margit Jocher, who lives in front of teh church.

"I saw the black cars stop right in front. The Pope and his brother got out and went directly to the grave of Anton Agreiter, who was a good friend of the brothers."

Later, the Pope's security allowed some children to approach the Pope, among them Margit's children Johanna and Mathias, who said the Pope exchanged a few words with them about how they were spending their summer vacation.

Then, the Pope's secretary, Mons. Georg Gaenswein, gave each one the usual papal gift of a rosary.

"We were not aware of anything," lamented the local restaurant-bar owner.

And old woman, who is in charge of watering the in the graveyard, said, "I only found out today about the visit. I so much wanted to see him."

The people in Val Badia will be more fortunate. Tomorrow afternoon, the Pope will be visiting Oies, birthplace of the only canonized saint from Alto Adige, St. Joseph Freinademetz who spent most of his life as a missionary in China.

Thus, in this majestic mountain scenery, after the Pope's good wishes for the Olympics expressed at the Angelus yesterday, the theme of China recurs, one of the major interests of this Pontificate. A subject probably discussed even at the long meeting today between the Pope and his Secretary of State, who said before going back to Rome, "Let us hope the Olympics start off well, continue well, and be an occasion for everyone to be welcome. And may the best athletes win."

'He makes Catholics proud':
With the pilgrims who came
to Bressanone for the Angelus

Translated from

August 4, 2008

BRESSANONE - He's clear. He's precise. There are no grays. It's black and white. He tells us where Catholics should be.

This appears to summarize how they describe Papa Ratzinger. And this appears to summarize why the faithful flock to him. Why pilgrims came in trains, buses and cars to Bressanone for yesterday's Angelus.

Said Monica Zanella, a 25-year-old from Dimaro, who is about to graduate in civil engineering: "Benedict XVI shows us the way. And he tells us we should be proud to be Christian. I was reading Joseph Ratzinger's books before he became Pope. I was elated when he was elected. I like him for his simplicity, for the way he transmits the faith to everyone."

Monica was in one of the trains that plied the Trento-Bressanone route yesterday. For the Angelus in Bressanone, most pilgrims came equipped with hats, sunshades and folding seats.

Anna and Patrizia Faccenda came from Lavis with their mother, Graziella.

"Why are we here?" the latter replied to our question. "Because we are Catholics. And Catholics follow the Pope. The Church has never taught anything bad. We can only learn from anything the Church tells us."

Giovanni Ceschi and Elizabetta Ambrogetti work for the pastoral council in Solteri. "Th election of papa Ratzinger, following the pontificate of Papa Wojtyla, was providential. The very difficult phase that our society is undergoing today requires someone who can lay down precise directions. As active pastoral workers, we felt that it was doubly our duty to come to this Angelus to listen to the Pope directly."

Both said Benedict XVI has shown a communicative ability that most people had not previously known or recognized.

"This Pope also exhorts us to austerity and to strict standards of behavior. I may not always agree, and I would like to be more flexible. But in this historical moment, the Church needs a pastor like him."

Massimiliano Baroni, 30, and Serena Zomer, will get married in October and they wanted to come hear the Pope firsthand. "He has very clear ideas, and we want to keep in step with him," said Serena. "It's a great pride for our region to have him as a guest. And we need him in Italy. The country is drifting, and many no longer respect Catholic traditions."

Her future brother-in-law, Francisco Baroni, who is training to be a helicopter pilot, was equally enthusiastic. "It is beautiful to get this Pope's message and make it our own."

Sister Maria Salesia says she is from the congregation of the Missionaries of Jesus the Eternal Priest. "Write that, please," she says, "to publicize vocations."

What she likes about the Pope? "He opens us to the wonderful reality of Catholicism." And why does one come to Angelus? "Faith. It's not 'mandatory' to follow Jesus, but to follow him is to be filled with joy."

Manuela Dalbosco of Avio says: "It is such a pleasure to read the books of this Pope. He makes us discover Sacred Scriptures, brings us nearer to the Word of God."

Her husband, Giuseppe Emanuelli, regrets that many people had wrong ideas about Joseph Ratzinger: "With all of his authority, he is very humble. And he is not intransigent as the media have described him. But he is very clear and firm, because the message of the Church has to be clear and firm."

Elide Cappelletti, overhearing, comments, "Catholics have now seen through that false image of a cold and distant man. My grandson saw him close up and he was moved to tears!"

Alfonsina Viola, Luisa Zeni and Ardiana Cekay made observations like "People no longer believe in anything"..."The family as an institution is in danger of crumbling"..."Young people are misled by what they see on TV"... and for these reasons, "Only the Church can show us the right way".

00Tuesday, August 5, 2008 7:11 PM

Here's a heartwarming story from the local paper of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the Bavarian Alps town that had once hosted the Winter Olympics.

As in old times with Sepp:
Ex-parish priest meets
his school friends in Brixen

Translated from
Garmisch-Partenkirchner Tageblatt

August 3, 2008

GROSSWEIL - They have known each other since their schooldays. And on Friday (Aug. 1) the retired parish priest of Grossweil, Josef Stadler, had a private meeting with Pope Benedict XVI and his brother Georg in Brixen/Bressanone.

Souvenir of an unforgettable meeting: From the right, Mons. Georg, the Holy Father, sexton Straubinger, Fr. Stadler, Fr. Scheurenbrand, and parish housekeeper Berta Luidl. Something in Bavaria obviously keeps her octogenarian priests very fit! (Photo: fkn)

For almost two hours Fr Stadler met with the Ratzinger brothers chatting 'about God and the world'.

"I attended the boys seminary in Traunstein with Georg Ratzinger," Stadler says. "Then his younger brother Joseph also showed up. And so we have always known each other and have met quite often."

The contact was never broken. When Stadler was a chaplain in Schlehdorf in 1953, he remembers asking Joseph Ratzinger to be a guest preacher at Loisachtal.

"I went to Freising in my Triumph 125 (motorcycle) to fetch him and brought him back the same way."

In Brixen, they not only recalled childhood memories but turned their talk to the state of the church in the world today.

The audience included lunch with the Pope and his brother (and with the Pope's private secretary and his housekeepers).

Maurus Scheurenbrand, the present parish priest of Grossweil-Schlehdorf, was part of the audience. He had been instrumental in trying to arrange for this meeting since the start of 2008. And he was very happy that the occasion - a thoughtful present for Stadler's 85th birthday - materialized.

Scheurenbrand set off early Friday morning for Brixen with Stadler, his housekeeper Berta Luidl and sexton Josef Straubinger. Once in Brixen, a private escort car led them into the 'old city' which is otherwise closed to traffic during the Pope's visit.

Stadler admits he was rather excited, and that first, he had to ask Georg Ratzinger for the right way to address the Pope. He told the Pope's brother, "Out of propriety and respect, I must call your brother Holy Father, but I would much rather chat with Sepp [pronounced Zep] as in earlier times."

"That's just fine," Georg Ratzinger said.

Time seemed to fly. Soon the audience came to an end, but there was time for a group photograph, a personal word from the Pope for each of his guests, and for papal greetings to the parishioners of Grossweil and Schlehdorf.

00Thursday, August 7, 2008 7:40 PM

Normally, this first item would go to PEOPLE AROUND THE POPE, but just to keep items about the Pope's vacation together, I am posting it here. This is one of many little stories in ALTO ADIGE which I have not managed to translate promptly.

'Padre Georg' visits the city
and gets star treatment

August 2, 2008

If Pope Benedict XVI has so far remained behind the walls of the Seminario Maggiore, his private secretary , Mons. Georg Gaenswein, helped satisfy the curiosity of residents and tourists, who, the few times he has been seen on city streets, has always attracted a crowd.
[The article says See photo, but I cannot find the photo anywhere on the site!]

A relaxing walk along the Eisack River, a visit to the diocesan museum, and there are those who swear they have seen him in the evening going for a pizza at the pub near the seminary.

Fr. Georg Gänswein, the Pontiff's [private secretary, is availing of the Holy Father's vacation - particularly since Benedict XVI has chosen to spend his days inside the Seminary - to get to know this 'city of the bishops'.

Yesterday, the monsignor took a walk along the Eisack along with teh Pope's physician, Renato Buzzonetti; papal valet Paolo Gabriele; Cristina and Carmela, the two Memores Domini housekeepers who accompanied the Pope to Bressanone; and an old nun [the Seminary's Suor Maria Pieta?]

The day before that, Padre Georg and two Vatican gendarmes spent the afternoon among the treasures of the Diocesan Museum, with curator Josef Gelmi and museum director Hans Kronbichler.

"Mons. Gaenswein was as very much impressed with the works on display," Kronbichler said. "But I don't think teh Holy Father will come see us this time. He has been here twice before as cardinal,"

Eyewitnesses say that Thursday night Padre Georg had a 'night out' in the city center, among the various food stands and concerts that are part of 'long Thursdays' in the summer; another walk in the vicinity, and then, the pizzeria which is located a few meters from the back entrance to the Seminary.

An account by a local journalist gives us an idea of how Mons. Gaenswein 'keeps the line moving' during those informal 'receptions' by the Pope:

'And so I kissed the Pope's ring -
Georg had broken into my dream'

By Georg Von Metz Schiano
Translated from

August 4, 2008

This is a story to be told before the Christmas tree to my grandchildren: about how Georg Gaenswein, with ethereal firmness (but firmness nonetheless), drew me away from Benedict XVI just as I thought he was ready to converse with me.

Included among the elected ranks of those who would be allowed to mount the red-carpeted steps to the Papal chair, I had conquered the paralyzing emotion of finding myself before the Holy Father, and volunteered the information that I have written many times about him and had even interviewed him.

"Oh, so we already met," the Pope started to say. And it was at this point that I felt a solicitous pressure on my right elbow. I just had the time to bend and kiss the ring of the Pontiff who was smiling benevolently, and then I was going down the steps.

A papal aide consoled me by handing me a rosary as a papal souvenir.

This brief encounter with the Pope concluded the Angelus for us, some 30 people in a group which included the presidents of the parish councils, 10 altar boys, four seminarians, the abbesses of some convents, the leaders of the Jugendschaar (German Catholic youth group), don Bertagnolli of La Strada, some Ladino Biblical translators, the ex-mayor of Ortisei who presented the Pope with a large wooden statue of Christ, and most moving of all, a Polish boy who has had leukemia for seven years.

After finishing with our group, Benedict XVI then gave a last greeting to the crowd in Cathedral Square with his usual warmth, and to crashing applause, he made his way back into the Cathedral.

And this anecdote from the Holy Father's visit to Oies:

Mushrooms for the Pope
Translated from

August 6, 2008

OIES - One last gift for Pope Benedict XVI as he made his way to the helicopter that would take him back to Bressanone.

Irene Pedratscther - who owns the only bar-eatery in Oies, had been busy all day attending to the army of pilgrims who had come to see the Holy Father - but for all this, she never gave up on the idea that she would somehow present a gift to the Holy Father.

She says:
"At first, since the Pope is Bavarian, I had thought to prepare some Weisswurst (white sausage made with veal) for him, with some Weizen beer. But that would have taken some doing...and so I thought of making up a basket of porcini mushrooms from the woods of Oies, freshly picked the same day. It would be just as pleasing, I thought, and far easier to do."

"I must say thank you to the policeman who stopped the Mercedes with the Pope on board - which allowed me to present him with my gift. But don't ask me what he said. I was too emotional. I only know we greeted each other in German and that he gave me a rosary."

One of the most delightful things about the Pope's Alpine holidays is that every chance they have, people give him bunches of the wildflowers that are one of the great glories of Alpine scenery - as well as these mushrooms from the woods. The welcome at Oies was notably 'floral'!

In Lorenzago last year, a couple of anecdotes recounted mushrooms being presented directly to the Pope on one of his walks or sent on to his villa.

00Sunday, August 10, 2008 6:50 PM

For the latest videonews on the Holy Father

At a bookstore off St. Peter's:
Customers already asking
for Pope's WYD speeches

by Paolo Mosca
Translated from

August 10, 2008

You cannot find another bookstore in Rome so open to inter-religious conciliation - right on Via di Conciliazione, in fact, not far from St. Peter's Square.

Marcello, 'the grandfather manager' (so-called because of the way he treats his employees), says, "Besides Catholic books, we offer books on Islam, Judaism and the Asian religions."

It's a bookstore [of the San Paolo publishing house] which, before Marcello's time, Cardinal Ratzinger patronized.

A native of Sardinia, Marcello left his hometown of Sassari "to come to Rome and study at the Istituto San Paolo to be a (religious) brother. I made vows of poverty, chastity and obedience but I don't say the Mass. Here in Rome, I live in a community of 16 brothers and three priests. Before coming here, I managed other bookstores for San Paolo in Pescara, then Florence, Genoa and Catania..."

How did he get here just two steps from the Vatican?
Someone up there chose me. I admit I feel I am at the center of the world. We serve a surprising clientele. I cannot name names, but among our customers, I have met VIPs in the world of politics and culture, and even from other faiths. Even TV personalities who, on the air, you would not suspect to have an interest in religion. But they come here and they talk to me about their secret conversions!

But can books convert people?
There is a great thirst for religion. Those who buy Papa Ratzinger's Catechism [of the Catholic Church] come in all ages. It's the same for JESUS OF NAZARETH or for his two encyclicals. Right now, there are so many who are looking for the Pope's speeches in Australia. But since nothing of the sort is out yet, in the meantime, they buy what he was written about St. Paul.

The success of children's books about the Pope is a 'small miracle' - [Joseph and Chico and Why the Pope wears red shoes]. The surprising thing is that even adults buy them. As one of our brothers says, 'People want to dream of an interesting life that is also a life of goodness!'

Was Cardinal Ratzinger ever a client here?
My people tell me that when he was a cardinal, he often passed by - he did not come in but he would stand outside looking at the display of new books and taking notes. Then after a few hours, someone would come in and buy books on his account.

I know one customer told me that once, when he was rushing out the door, he bumped into the cardinal who was outside with his notebook. "Excuse me, Eminence", he said. "No, it is you must excuse me, it was all my fault," the cardinal answered him.

Is it true that there's a great interest now in books on meditation?
It's true. It's not just priests or nuns who are buying books on the Camaldoli hermitage [original monastery of the Benedictine community called the Camaldolese in Tuscany, near Arezzo], on the Taize community or on Enzo Bianchi's Bose community. Mostly those who buy these books are regular folks.

What about 'rediscoveries' ?
Yes. For example, thirty years after his death, a couple of books have come out about Paul VI, which tell us more about his secret sufferings, his anguish over the kidnapping and assassination of his friend Aldo Moro [who was Italian Prime Minister at the time; Paul VI himself died a few months later].

Then there's new interest in [Giovannini) Guareschi and his Don Camillo books. The words of that village Crucifix still sound very relevant - they would do good to tormented souls today. [Written between 1948-1968, Guarini's satirical books portray postwar Italian society from the point of view a of a small-town parish priest who must deal with a Communist mayor and people at the grassroots who vote Communist. The priest's strong-willed earnestness about what the Church teaches is often tempered by the village Crucifix who 'speaks' to him and is generally more understanding of people's foibles. Guareschi, who died in 1968, lived long enough to incorporate the post-Vatican-II conflict in his narrative: an assistant priest is assigned to 'see that Don Camillo moves with the times' - but the feisty priest has other ideas. ]

Do you make spiritual retreats yourself?
Country folk have a saying that 'An empty sack cannot stand up' - they refer to food, but even the soul must be fed.

00Sunday, August 10, 2008 11:39 PM
sorry.. not really relevant here..
anyway.. Don Camillo is definitely one of my all time fav. characters. I love him to death. I really wish we had more priests of his kind all over the world (even though he did use some rather strange methods to talk sense into people, sometimes [SM=g27811] )
Feisty is the perfect description for him. A feisty and fearless defender of the truth!


[SM=x40799] [SM=x40799] [SM=x40799] [SM=x40799] [SM=x40799]

Join the club! Lately, Father Z on his blog has been conducting what I call a 'Don Camillo awareness' drive.....



Well, Father Z got me going again. I always loved Don Camillo and have seen the movies countless times. Brilliant acting as far as I'm concerned!! [SM=g27835]
Reading Father Z's blog did inspire me to get the entire package of all 5 movies. I have been watching them over and over. Also with our 6-year-old, who loves them as much as I did when I was a child.

[SM=g27828] [SM=g27811] [SM=g27824]

00Monday, August 11, 2008 1:00 AM
Don Camillo etc.
A friend has just given me her copy of the Don Camillo stories, so I look forward to starting on it.

Is the article above referring to Ancora, the bookshop at the top of the Via della Conciliazione? That is certainly a comprehensive store, with all the books in English upstairs. But I've also bought books in the shop in the Via dei Corridori [it specialises in theology and does have an English section] and I thought that was Cardinal Ratzinger's bookshop.
00Tuesday, August 19, 2008 3:24 AM
The Pope's pharmacist
by Paolo Mosca
Translated from

August 17, 2008

Mr. Mosca turns in another one in his series of vignettes on 'shop people' in the life of Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI, this time on a character from within Vatican walls.

The unprepossessing facades of the Vatican Pharmacy and supermarket. [Photos from Cardinal Sean's blog]

Happy birthday, Brother Joseph!

One by one the 45 employees and 6 friars of the Vatican Pharmacy, showed up at the small office last August 5 to greet him on his 42nd birthday.

The young manager, who belongs to the Fatebenefratelli* order [it literally means "Do good brothers"], had a gracious Thank you adn a smile for all.

[*Known in English as the Hospital Order of St. John of God, it was established in 1592 by a Spanish priest who dedicated his life to serving the sick and who was told by God in a vision that he should be called John of God. The order has hospitals around the world, and its members receive specialized training in health care as professionals or on lesser levels. In addition to poverty, obedience and chastity, they also vow to serve the sick especially. Since the Philippines was a Spanish colony from the 1560s to 1896, the order built one of its first hospitals in Manila in the early 1600s, and it continues to be a leading medical center known by the Spanish version of the saint's name, San Juan de Dios.]

Born in Kerala, India, to a family with seven children and a rubber plantation, Brother Joseph was named deputy manager of what has been called 'the drugstore nearest to heaven' in 2002 by Cardinal Edmund Szoka, then the president of the Vatican City Governatorate. He became manager on January 1, 2007.

Slim, with two dark eyes blazing with spirituality, he is immediately engaging. We speak in Italian which he first learned while working for two months at the pharmacy of the Fatebenefratelli hospital on Isola Tiberina. But he also speaks German and English, and two of the major Indian languages, Tamil and Malayalam.

"I am seeing you in this 'office'," he says, "but normally I spend the day behind the counter with my co-workers. We have a duty to the sick and the weak, as I learned at the seminary in Madras, which I attended against my father's wishes.

"Every day, some 1500 persons come to us, Vatican personnel as well as outsiders. Priests, nuns, bishops, cardinals. You should see their eminences standing line with their prescriptions in hand. Cardinal Lajolo [the present head of the Vatican Governatorate] likes to point it out as an example of humility for all of us."

And what happens when prescriptions for the Pope arrive?

"You feel yourself at the center of the world! But the Popes have always given special attention to the Vatican Pharmacy. I know, for example, that Paul VI, when when he was at Castel Gandolfo, would send fruit baskets for the brothers.

"John Paul II received me in the papal apartment. He not only encouraged me in my work but he asked about vocations in India. In 1986, he came to India for the beatification of Sister Alfonsa, who was a Poor Clare nun. Afflicted with tuberculosis, she was isolated and avoided by all for fear of contagion. She died young, 'defeated' both by lack of medicines and lack of love. She will be canonized on October 12.

And what does he feel about attending to Papa Ratzinger?

"For me, he is a second father. He teaches us to reason, but always with joy. 'Kattackal, that's a strange surname," he told me in the presence of Cardinal Lajolo, who said it should be pronounced differently. 'Who is right?' the Pope asked me. 'Obviously, the Pope is,' I answered, and we all laughed.

"Another time, at Sant'Anna [the church of Sant'Anna just outside the Vatican walls, often called the Vatican parish church], he told us: You enable me to live more and longer. My life is in your hands.' I felt an earthquake in my heart!"

I see a Bible on his table. "It's the only book that gives me peace of heart," he says. "Once every six months, I have a long conversation with each of my co-workers. We talk about their problems. For instance, I recently persuaded two of the women to stop smoking."

Since the 1600s, two brothers of the order have been assigned to tend to the cardinals during conclaves.

"The Church trusts us. Here in the pharmacy we work 24/7. We have two trained emergency nurses on duty at night. The health of the Pope is sacred to us. We adore him."

The Vatican pharmacy was first set up in the Cortile di San Damaso [the inner courtyard which leads to the main entrance of the Apostolic Palace] in 1874, until it transferred to its present location in 1917.

How many years does Brother Joseph see himself managing the drugstore?

"I ask that of the Lord every time I wake up at 4 a.m. Our previous manager, Brother Fabian, worked till he was 81. Could I do any less?"

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