Pope Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI in latin Benedictus PP. XVI, born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger is the 265th Pope and Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church, which includes the Latin Church and the 22 Eastern Catholic Churches.

1927-04-16 00:00:00


Born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on 16 April (Holy Saturday), in his parents' home at Marktl am Inn, Diocese of Passau (Germany), at 8:30am. Baptized on the same day, he was the third and youngest child in the family. His father, a policeman, belonged to an old family of farmers from Lower Bavaria of modest economic wealth. His mother was the daughter of artisans from Rimsting on the shore of Lake Chiem, and before marrying she worked as a cook in a number of hotels. His mother's family was originally from South Tyrol (now in Italy). Joseph was raised in a traditional, religious home. It was in this context, which he himself has described as "Mozartian", that he received his Christian, human and cultural formation. He spent his adolescent years in Traunstein, a small town on the Austrian border.

1941-01-01 00:00:00

Youth in Nazi Germany

Towards the end of WWII, at the age of 14, Ratzinger and his classmates were enrolled by their school in the Hitler Youth. He never attended any of the meetings, even when a reduction in tuition was offered to students who did.

1943-01-01 00:00:00

The Flak

In 1943, at the age of 16 he and his classmates who were too young for military service, were moved to barracks and assigned to assist in the the anti-aircraft service. Joseph Ratzinger asked to be assigned to observation and communication duties. As a result he never fired a shot.

1944-01-01 00:00:00

Work Service

In 1944, Joseph Ratzinger was released from the German anti-aircraft unit, but immediately drafted into the Reich's labour service and forced to dig anti-tank trenches. Months later, he was released, but was almost immediately drafted into the regular army. After completing basic training, when it seemed clear his unit would be called to the front, he deserted. Ratzinger returned home but was captured by Americans and held in a prisoner of war camp as the war drew to a close.

1946-01-01 00:00:00

University Education

At 19, Joseph Ratzinger began his theological and philosophical studies. He attended the Higher School of Philosophy and Theology of Freising at the University of Munich, Germany.

1951-06-29 00:00:00

Priestly Ordination

Following repatriation in 1945, the Ratzinger brothers entered Saint Michael Seminary in Traunstein, later studying at the Ducal Georgianum (Herzogliches Georgianum) of the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich. Joseph and Georg were both ordained in Freising on 29 June 1951 by Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber of Munich. Ratzinger recalled, "When the old Archbishop laid his hands on mine, a bird, perhaps a lark, rose from the altar, and sang a happy song, perhaps for me it was like a voice from heaven telling me, 'it's going well, you're taking the right path.'"

1953-07-25 00:00:00

Theological Doctorate

Continuing his studies at the University of Munich, he received his doctorate in theology. His dissertation was entitled “The People and House of God in Augustine's Doctrine of the Church.” He fulfilled a requirement for teaching at the university level by completing a book-length treatise on St. Bonaventure’s theology of history and revelation.

1959-04-15 00:00:00

Teaching Career

After his graduation, and upon lecturing on dogmatic and fundamental theology at the Higher School of Philosophy and Theology in Freising, he began lectures as a full professor. Dr. Ratzinger taught fundamental theology at the University of Bonn in 1959, and continued until 1963. He then continued teaching in Münster from 1963 to 1966, and Tubinga from 1966 to 1969. From 1969, he was a professor of dogmatic theology and of the history of dogma at the University of Regensburg and became Vice President of the same university.

1959-10-01 06:30:36


Professor Joseph Ratzinger was offered a position teaching fundamental theology in Bonn. After consulting with his older brother Georg and his father, he accepted the position. His sister Maria moved with him to keep house for him, and his parents moved back to their hometown of Traunstein to live with his brother Georg.

1962-10-11 06:30:36

Second Vatican Council begins

Professor Joseph Ratzinger attended the Second Vatican Council as theological advisor to Cardinal Joseph Frings of Cologne.

Pope Benedict XVI

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