Pope Francis visited Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI today, April 13, 2022, to mark the occasion of the former pontiff’s 95th birthday, the Holy See Press Office said. Pope Emeritus Benedict will turn 95 this Saturday (April 16).
In the Mater Ecclesiae residence, located in the Vatican Gardens, the pontiff and the pope emeritus had a “brief and affectionate” conversation, the Holy See Press Office reports. The visit concluded in prayer, before Pope Francis returned to his own residence in the Casa St. Martha.
Officially, the two men in white had last seen each other before the Covid-19 pandemic, on the sidelines of the consistory for the creation of new cardinals on November 28, 2020. The birthday visit marked their first get-together since the outset of the pandemic.
Pope Francis’s consistent support of Benedict XVI
During the general audience on February 9, the Argentine pontiff paid tribute to his predecessor, praising his “beautiful advice” on the Christian approach to death, in his letter of response to the report of the Munich archdiocese. “In light of the hour of judgement, the grace of being a Christian becomes all the more clear to me. It grants me knowledge, and indeed friendship, with the judge of my life, and thus allows me to pass confidently through the dark door of death,” wrote Benedict XVI.
“This is very beautiful,” exclaimed his successor, before thanking the pope emeritus who, “at 95 years of age, has this lucidity” to place himself before this “darkness.” “It is a beautiful piece of advice that he gives us,” he concluded.
Pope Francis has consistently shown his support for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. In February, when Pope Benedict’s handling of sexual abuse cases in Munich was under close scrutiny, Pope Francis sent his predecessor “a beautiful letter,” according to the former pope’s secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein.