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Monday, April 16, 2012

The day that the Pope was born- memories from his brother

Ratzinger-Familie: 'Heute haben wir ein kleines Buberl bekommen!':
Today, we have got a little chap

 The brother of thePope, Monsignor Dr. Georg Ratzinger, remembers the day of the birth of the young Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, 85 years ago.

"And then the day came, about which so much has been already written, that of 16th April 1927, when my brother Joseph came into the world. It was Holy Saturday and it was cold and had a lot of snow, really terrible weather. But I only knew that I eventually woke up and realized then I was alone. I was not really used to sleeping alone, then, as my parents and sister normally slept next to me. But that night, or in the early morning hours, I was suddenly alone in bed. No one woke me up, as was usual, but instead I heard sounds of hectic activity. Doors were opening and closing, quick footsteps echoed in the hallway, there was speaking aloud. When I heard the voice of my father, I said, "Father, I want to get up," As the father but said: "No, you have to wait, now we have got a little chap" That was a bit puzzling for me at the time. "

Pope Benedict XVI was born at 4.15 in the morning, his baptism being already in the morning at 8:30. Because the godmother, Anna Ratzinger could not be quickly enough informed, a nun named Adelma Rohrhirsch stood in for her.

At that time the liturgy of the Easter Vigil was celebrated in the morning of Holy Saturday. Since the blessing of the baptismal water and the rite of baptism is an integral part of this liturgy, the parents hesitated no longer: "Now he is already here, the little chap, now he will be baptized." Somehow, this was a special dispensation, a good sign. Only the two children, Georg and Maria remained at home because it snowed so much that the parents were afraid they might catch cold. The mother also stayed at home, as she was too exhausted by the birth to go out into the snow.

Thus the newborn was baptized as the first person baptized with the water freshly blessed from Easter with the name of "Joseph Alois." "At the door at Easter, not yet occurred" was now a metaphor for his whole life was immersed right from the outset in the Paschal Mystery.

St Aloysius Gonzaga, Patron of Youth

The neo-Gothic baptismal font was made of bright Danube limestone adorned with six heads of angels where the little Joseph Alois was held, fortunately has been preserved. (see Cathcon's When liturgical barbarians arrived in the Pope's home parish) It was initially removed on the re-construction of the church in 1965 to the rectory garden before being placed in Marktl's local museum in 1992. Research indicated then that it is a work of the Munich court sculptor Anselm Sickinger (1807-1873) who was involved in the construction of Munich's Victory Gate. After the election of Joseph Ratzinger as pope, it was "allowed" to return to the church. Since then, it stands before the altar of St Oswald, a relic of the old church. On Easter Sunday 2006, which coincidentally fell on the birth and baptismal day of the Pope, it was for the first time again used for a child's baptism.

Cathcon- the Pope was actually named Joseph about Benedict-Joseph Labre whose Feast falls on this day. He later took the name Benedict in completion of his baptismal name.

The poor pilgrim to Rome

The Triumph of Benedict-Joseph

Benedict-Joseph Labre was a Francisan tertiary, which is appropriate given the Pope's long term interest in the Franciscan order- one of his two doctoral theses being on the sense of history in St Bonaventura.

The anthem of the Free State of Bavaria- in a separate interview Monsignor Ratzinger has said that his brother will never again step foot in his native land.

The Pontifical March

 The Birthday of Pope Pius XII

 God willing that the reign of Pope Benedict XVI will mark the restoration of the Church to her pre-conciliar glory. The coming week is crucial in determining how long this will take.  Either way, history is being made.
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