By CNA Staff
Pope emeritus Benedict XVI has said that receiving congratulatory messages from around the world on his 95th birthday made him “very happy.”
The retired German pope received almost 3,000 greetings in 24 languages via the website benedictusXVI.org, CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported.
On the website of the Tagespost Foundation, originally launched by Benedict XVI, the pope emeritus thanked well-wishers.
He said: “On the occasion of my 95th birthday, I received a great number of messages from around the world wishing me a happy birthday. These many expressions of devotion and solidarity have made me very happy. In my gratitude, I feel united with everyone in prayer.“
The messages were mainly written in German, English, Italian, and Polish.
Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the private secretary of the pope emeritus, showed Benedict XVI the messages on a tablet at his residence, the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery.
“The pope emeritus has asked me to express his heartfelt gratitude to everyone who wished him a happy birthday on the website benedictusXVI.org,“ Gänswein said.
“He was filled with great joy and deeply touched by the many warm and affectionate messages that were sent to him there.“
The retired pope’s birthday fell this year on Holy Saturday, as it did when he was born on April 16, 1927, in Marktl am Inn, a small Bavarian town not far from Austria.
Looking back to his birth in his memoir, he wrote: “The fact that the birthday was the last day of Holy Week and the eve of Easter was always noted in the family history, because it was connected with the fact that I was baptized right on the morning of my birthday with the water that had just been consecrated in the ‘Easter Vigil’ celebrated at that time in the morning. To be the first baptized with the new water was considered a significant providential event.”
He continued: “The fact that my life was thus immersed in the Paschal Mystery from the beginning in this way has always filled me with gratitude, for this could only be a sign of blessing.”
“Admittedly — it had not been Easter Sunday, but only Holy Saturday. But the longer I think about it, the more it seems to me to be in keeping with the essence of our human life, which is still waiting for Easter, not yet in full light, but nevertheless confidently moving toward it.”
Among those congratulating Benedict XVI on his 95th birthday was Bishop Wolfgang Ipolt of Görlitz, eastern Germany.
He wrote: “I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have given to the Church in your writings. I am sure that you have helped many people to find God and to know and love Christ more deeply. May the Lord reward you for this effort one day in His glory!”
BenedictusXVI.org said that the birthday wishes would also be presented to the pope emeritus in a printed and bound volume.
(SOURCE: CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY)