PHOTOS: Key moments from Benedict XVI’s papacy
Rome Newsroom, Dec 31, 2022 / 03:45 am
Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy as told through photos.
Cardinal Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was elected the 265th pope of the Catholic Church on April 19, 2005, the second day of the conclave. He took the name Benedict XVI.
From the central loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica, the German theologian uttered his first words as pope: “Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble laborer in the vineyard of the Lord. The fact that the Lord knows how to work and to act even with insufficient instruments comforts me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers.”
Benedict XVI was formally installed as pope and the bishop of Rome at a public Mass on April 24, 2005, in St. Peter’s Square.
At this Mass, attended by an estimated 350,000 people, Benedict received the white wool pallium, a symbol of the yoke of Christ worn by bishops, and the papal fisherman’s ring.
World Youth Day in Cologne
Pope Benedict XVI’s second trip as pontiff, and first international journey, was to his home country of Germany for the 20th World Youth Day, held in Cologne.
From Aug. 18–21, 2005, the pope met German authorities, visited a Jewish synagogue, and celebrated Mass for the international youth festival founded by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.
Like his predecessors, Pope Benedict XVI gave a weekly public audience on Wednesday mornings. Afterward, he would greet people from around the world who came to meet him, sometimes kissing the babies held in his direction.
Visit to the United States
Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States from April 15–20, 2008. His trip included a meeting with then President George W. Bush, an address to the United Nations General Assembly, the celebration of Mass at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., and Yankee Stadium in New York City, and a visit to Ground Zero in New York.
Following in the footsteps of Pope John Paul II, every summer, Benedict XVI took a two-week vacation in the mountains, either the Italian Alps or the Dolomites.
“I hope everyone, especially those in greatest need, will be able to take a bit of vacation to restore their physical and spiritual energy and recover a healthy contact with nature. The mountains call to mind in particular the spirit’s ascent towards the heavens, its uplifting towards the ‘high standard’ of our humanity, which daily life unfortunately tends to debase,” he said during a July 8, 2007, stay in the Dolomites.
Beginning in the summer 2010, Benedict preferred to spend his entire period of rest at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, about 16 miles southeast of Rome.
World Youth Day in Sydney
From July 13–21, 2008, Benedict XVI traveled Down Under to Sydney, Australia, for the 21st World Youth Day.
Because of the time difference with Italy, Benedict rested for three days before beginning official appointments. In addition to celebrating an open-air Mass for World Youth Day, during the trip the pope made a historic apology for child sexual abuse in St. Mary’s Cathedral.
On July 16, 2009, at 82 years old, Benedict XVI fell and fractured his right wrist while staying at a vacation chalet in the Italian Alps.
He underwent a 20-minute surgery with local anesthesia to repair the injured wrist and wore a cast for about a month afterward.
Santiago de Compostela
Benedict XVI visited Santiago de Compostela, the city in Spain that is home to the Shrine of St. James and the destination of the world-famous “Camino de Santiago” (or “Way of St. James”) pilgrimage, during the first of his two visits to Spain.
During the Nov. 6–7, 2010, trip, he also traveled to Barcelona to consecrate the Sagrada Família church, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí.
World Youth Day in Madrid
The following year, Benedict XVI again visited Spain, this time for World Youth Day in Madrid Aug. 18–21, 2011.
Visit to Benin
The pope visited Benin, a country in western Africa, from Nov. 18–20, 2011. It was the 23rd of 25 international trips Benedict XVI took during his eight-year pontificate.
Visit to Mexico
A few weeks before his 85th birthday, Pope Benedict XVI visited the city of León in the Mexican state of Guanajuato, from March 23–26, 2012.
Visit to Cuba
Benedict landed in Cuba on March 26, 2012, after visiting Mexico. He traveled to the cities of Santiago de Cuba and Havana 14 years after the landmark visit of John Paul II.
His appointments included a visit to the Shrine of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre and a private meeting with Fidel Castro, which took place after he said Mass in Havana’s Revolutionary Square.
Wherever he traveled, the pope would take time to personally greet some of the many people who had come to see him. These meetings often included encounters such as this touching moment with a young boy.
Visit to Lebanon
Benedict XVI’s final foreign trip was to Lebanon on Sept. 14–16, 2012, where he promulgated his post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the Middle East, following the 2010 Synod on the Middle East.
Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls
The pope made several visits to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, one of the four major basilicas in Rome, during his pontificate. Every year in January, he celebrated ecumenical vespers with other Christian leaders at the important church to mark the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
On Feb. 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world with the surprise announcement of his intent to resign. He delivered the news in Latin to cardinals gathered at the Vatican for a consistory.
On Feb. 28, 2013, the day of his resignation, Benedict XVI took the Vatican helicopter from Rome to Castel Gandolfo for his final time as pope. He officially resigned the papacy at 8 p.m. local time from the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo.
During his pontificate, Benedict XVI would spend his summers at the Pontifical Villas in Castel Gandolfo, which was conceded to the Holy See as an extraterritorial possession under the Lateran Pact of 1929.
The villa had served as the papal summer residence since the reign of Pope Urban VIII during the 17th century.