One more candle on the birthday cake for Benedict XVI, and for the first time as Pope emeritus. He celebrates his 86th birthday in the intimacy of Castel Gandolfo. Eight years ago, on April 16, 2005, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger turned 78 just two days before the start of of the conclave where he was elected Pope.
During his pontificate, he celebrated seven birthdays with two concerts and Bavarian folk dances, but always working. In fact, in 2006, his first year as Pope, his birthday coincided with the Easter Sunday, where he asked for peace in Africa, Iraq, Israel and Palestine.
In 2007, Benedict XVI celebrated his 80 years at the tune of classical music. The Stuttgart Radio Symphonic Orchestra from Germany performed a concert for him at Paul VI Hall.
“At the end of this stupendous concert, which the Radio Symphonic Orchestra of Stuttgart gave us and elevated our spirits, I wish above all to greet all of you very cordially.”
One year later, in 2008 he packed his bags for the United States. In the morning of his birthday he met with President George W. Bush at the White House, and in the afternoon, with American bishops at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
In 2009, Benedict XVI was able to celebrate with family. He was joined by his brother Georg, as both enjoyed a concert at the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo.
But no birthday celebration is complete without cake. In 2010, the Papal Foundation gave Benedict XVI this confection which read “Happy Birthday Holy Father.” Well-wishers also congratulated him during the individual greetings.
“God bless you, thank you and Happy Birthday.”
That moment was immortalized in this group photo.
Before traveling to the United Kingdom in September 2011, British Catholic bishops created a Facebook page and email where anyone could send well-wishes to the Pope for his 84th birthday.
His last celebration as Pope was in 2012, and it came with a German touch. Once again joined by his brother Georg, the two enjoyed traditional folk dances from his native Bavaria.
The young dancers congratulated the Pope individually. It was with this Bavarian delegation that Benedict XVI marked his 85th birthday, his last one as Pope.