Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI celebrated his 90th birthday on Easter Monday with German friends, family, and visitors from his native Bavaria in Germany, including the region’s Prime Minister.
In brief remarks to a crowd which included his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, and Bavarian prime minister, Horst Seehofer, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI thanked God for “the 90 years that the good God has given me”.
“There have been challenges and difficult times, but He has always guided me and pulled me out [of those situations], so that I could continue my path. And I am full of gratitude above all that He gave me such a beautiful homeland.”
The Pope Emeritus went on to sing the praises of his native Bavaria.
“Bavaria has been beautiful ever since her Creation, for her bell towers, the houses with balconies full of flowers, and the goodness of her people. It is beautiful, in Bavaria, because one knows God, knows that He has created the world, and knows that it is good when we work to better it with Him.”
To the Gebirgsschützen (Bavarian mountain riflemen) present in the gardens of his Vatican residence, he said, “Thank you so much for having brought Bavaria here, that Bavaria open to the world, alive, happy, which can be so because its roots are embedded in faith.”
Finally, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI sent his greetings and blessings to his native land.
“I wish upon you the blessing of God. Bring my greetings home and my thankfulness to you. With what pleasure in my heart, I continue to walk and live in our landscapes. And I hope that it stays the same. ‘Vergelt’s Gott’ (May God reward you.)”
The Pope Emeritus was born on April 16, 1927, in southern Germany. But since the birthday coincided this year with Easter Sunday, he celebrated the milestone event on Monday.