“My heart is full of gratitude for the 90 years the good God has given me.”
Speaking to friends at his home in the Vatican (the former Mater Ecclesiae monastery which housed contemplative cloistered nuns during the pontificates of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict), the pope emeritus acknowledged there have been “trials and difficult times,” but he said the Lord “has always guided me and pulled me through.”
Benedict XVI celebrated his 90th birthday together with some 30 mountain rifleman from his native Bavaria. The Bavarian Prime Minister, Horst Seehofer, was also present at the ceremony in the Vatican gardens, as was his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, and Archbishop Georg Gänswein, prefect of the Papal Household.
One of the Bavarian mountain rifleman, Karl Steininger, described the celebration in the this way: “It was something special for us, because we were allowed to come to the Vatican Gardens and then to attend the birthday celebration of the Pope emeritus Benedict XVI.”
“He is a bit frail in health, but his eyes twinkle,” he said.
Here below are Benedict XVI’s words on his 90th birthday.
“My heart is full of gratitude for the 90 years the good God has given me. There have been trials and difficult times, but he has always guided me and pulled me through, so that I might continue my journey.
I am filled with gratitude above all because he has given me such a beautiful homeland which you (“The Gun Club”, i.e. Bavarian mountain riflemen) have brought me. Bavaria has been beautiful since its creation. The country is beautiful for its bell towers, the homes with balconies full of flowers, the people who are so good. It is beautiful in Bavaria, because there one comes to know God, and one knows that He is the one who created the world, and it is good when we build together with him.
Thank you so much for bringing Bavaria here: Bavaria which is open to the world, lively, happy, which can be so because it is rooted in faith. To all of you, may God reward you, to the governor of Bavaria and to you all. I am glad we could come together under this beautiful blue Roman sky with its white clouds reminiscent of the white and blue Bavarian flag — it is always the same sky … I wish you God’s blessing. Bring my greetings home. My gratitude to you all. And with great pleasure, in my heart, I continue to walk and live among our [Bavarian] landscapes and hope that everything stays well. May God reward you.”