Retired pope visits former home, parents’ grave in Germany

David Mchugh
Associated Press

Frankfurt, Germany – Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI visited his former home near Regensburg, Germany, on Saturday, greeted old neighbors and prayed at his parents’ grave as part of a trip to his former haunts to be with his seriously ill 96-year-old brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger.

Bavarian public television showed the retired pope, who is 93, arriving at a house in a wheelchair-equipped van behind a protective line of police. Benedict smiled and greeted a small group of well-wishers, spoke briefly with former neighbors and went to pray at the graves of his mother, father and sister, the dpa news agency said.

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI is wheeled in his wheelchair as he visits the grave of his parents and sister at the Ziegetsdorf cemetery near Regensburg, Germany, Saturday, June 20, 2020.

As Joseph Ratzinger the former pope taught at the University of Regensburg in 1969-77 before he was named archbishop of Munich. The house in Pentling near Regensburg, which Benedict had built in 1969, is now a meeting and documentation center for the Pope Benedict XVI Institute, whose mission is to hold and make available his extensive writings. The institute said on its web page that the pope last visited his old home in 2006.

The pope, who has been staying at a nearby seminary, was reported to have looked at some of the photographs on the walls and to have spent a few minutes on the terrace with a view of his former garden.

Benecdict also visited his brother, a longtime choirmaster in Regensburg, at his apartment. The two were ordained priests on the same day in 1951.

Diocesan spokesman Clemens Neck said Benedict’s visit with his brother had been “invigorating” for both and the two had prayed together, although the state of Georg’s health meant they could not talk very much.

“It’s more about being there,” said Neck.

The diocese of Regensburg said Benedict, who arrived Thursday, would stay at least through Monday.

The retired pope has lived at a monastery on the Vatican grounds since shortly after his 2013 retirement, a decision that stunned the world. Elected to the papacy in 2005 to succeed St. John Paul II, Ratzinger was the first pontiff in 600 years to resign the post. He was succeeded by current Pope Francis.