Pope emeritus Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass with his ailing brother on the feast of the Sacred Heart during his first full day in Germany on Friday.
A June 19 statement from the Diocese of Regensburg said that after Benedict XVI arrived from Rome at noon on Thursday he immediately visited his 96-year-old brother, Mgr Georg Ratzinger.
The brothers celebrated Mass together at the house in Regensburg and the pope emeritus then travelled to the diocesan seminary in the afternoon to rest. In the evening, he returned to see his brother.
The diocese said: “For the first morning in his old homeland, an authentic Bavarian breakfast awaited the pope emeritus in the seminary. There were pretzels, which Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who accompanied him, was also pleased about.”
“In the course of the morning the two brothers will celebrate together a high mass for today’s feast of the Sacred Heart.”
The diocese added that “afterwards there will be apple strudel,” a popular pastry in Bavaria and Austria.
News of Benedict XVI’s visit broke on the morning of June 18. It is believed to be his first trip outside Italy since he stood down as pope in 2013.
In a statement on Thursday, Regensburg diocese said: “Pope emeritus Benedict XVI flew this morning from Rome to Bavaria to be at the side of his seriously ill 96-year-old brother. It is perhaps the last time that the two brothers, Georg and Joseph Ratzinger, will see each other in this world.”
The diocese asked the public to respect the two brothers’ privacy during the visit.
“All people who wish to express their sympathy are invited to say a silent prayer for the two brothers,” it said.
The statement continued: “The 93-year-old pope emeritus landed in Munich on Thursday, June 18, at about 11:45 a.m. There Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer welcomed him warmly and accompanied him on the journey to Regensburg. The pope emeritus is staying in the seminary of the Diocese of Regensburg. The date of his return journey is not yet fixed.”
“Benedict XVI is travelling in the company of his secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, his doctor, his nurse and a religious woman. The Pope emeritus made the decision to travel to his brother in Regensburg at short notice, after consulting with Pope Francis.”
Mgr Georg Ratzinger is a former choirmaster of the Regensburger Domspatzen, the cathedral choir of Regensburg.
On June 29, 2011, he celebrated his 60th anniversary as a priest in Rome together with his brother. Both men were ordained priests in 1951.
Image: file photo (CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)