Pope Emeritus went to his homeland to visit his ailing 96-year-old brother.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI returned to the Vatican on Monday, following a five-day trip to his native Germany where he visited his 96-year-old brother, Georg, who is in frail health.
The pope emeritus traveled to Munich on Thursday.
As well as visiting his older brother, Benedict XVI took advantage of his time in Munich to visit the Ziegetsdorf Cemetery where his parents and older sister are buried. He prayed briefly at their tombs, before blessing their graves with holy water.
He also paid a visit to his old home in Pentling, on the outskirts of Regensburg, where he worked as professor of Dogmatics at the city’s university before his appointment as Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977. The house is now the headquarters of the Benedict XVI Institute, which preserves his theological heritage.
Benedict XVI also met with the nuncio to Germany, Archbishop Nikola Eterović, who in the years of his pontificate had served as Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops.
A statement from the Diocese of Regensburg upon Benedict’s arrival said the retired pope had arrived by plane Thursday “to be at the side of his seriously ill 96-year-old brother. It is perhaps the last time that the two brothers, Georg and Joseph Ratzinger, will see each other in this world.”
It added that Benedict XVI “made the decision to travel to his brother in Regensburg at short notice, after consulting with Pope Francis.”
The two brothers were able to celebrate Mass together during Benedict’s visit. Joseph and Georg Ratzinger were ordained priests together on June 29, 1951.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI last visited Germany during an official papal visit in 2006.
Enjoy reflections from the pope emeritus about his emeritus in his greetings at his 90th birthday:
Benedict XVI speaks on his 90th birthday
In the book-interview called Last Testament that was published in 2016, Benedict XVI spoke about preparing for death. The q-and-a went like this:
You are now, as you expressed it, in the last phase of life. Can one prepare oneself for death? I think one must, even. Not in the sense of performing particular actions, but living inwardly, so that there is a final self-examination before God. So that one goes out of this world and will be there before God, and before the saints, and before friends and those who weren’t friends. So that one, let’s say, accepts the finitude of this life and approaches it inwardly, to come before God’s countenance. How do you do that? Just in my meditation. I time and time again think on the fact that it is going to end. I try to open myself up for it, and above all, to keep myself present. The important thing is not actually that I imagine it, but that I live in the consciousness of it, that all of life ascends to an encounter.