Pope Francis gives thanks to God for the 65th anniversary of ordination of the emeritus Pope Benedict XVI

The anniversary of Joseph Ratzinger’s priestly ordination – that was held in the Cathedral of Freising on 29th June 1951 – will be celebrated on 28th June, in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace

Luca Caruso


(14th June 2016) “Domineering over your faith is not my purpose. I prefer to work with you for your happiness”. It is what the Apostle Paul (II Cor 1,24) wrote and his quote was used 65 years ago on the celebration day of Peter and Paul Patron Saints – 29th June 1951 – during the priestly ordination of Joseph Ratzinger. It was held in the Cathedral of Freising and celebrated by Michael von Faulhaber, archbishop of Munich. Paul’s quote was written on the holy card in order to celebrate the event. This important anniversary will be marked by a solemn celebration in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace on 28th June. Pope Francis and the emeritus Pope Benedict XVI will attend the celebration. Joseph Ratzinger will receive a book on priesthood as a present.

“We were more than forty candidates and we all answered Adsum – that is “Here I am” – Ratzinger wrote in his Autobiography –. It was a beautiful and unforgettable summer day, the most important moment in my life”. “I shouldn’t be superstitious, but while the old archbishop was laying his hands on me, a little bird – maybe a lark – raised from the high altar of the Cathedral and sang a short joyful song; I thought it was a voice from above saying: you are in the right way”, Ratzinger said. His elder brother Georg had to be ordained with him. “The day of the first Mass the church of Saint Oswald was in its splendour and people showed us their joy and involvement – Ratzinger added –. We had been asked to bring the blessing of the first Mass to the town and we were welcomed everywhere. Everybody showed friendliness, even the people we didn’t know at all. I became aware of the expectations men and women have with a priest: they trust in his blessing and the power of the sacrament. It was not because of me or my brother: what did we mean to the people we met? They saw us as the men to whom Christ had given a task, that was to show His presence”.

While the emeritus Pope is about to celebrate this meaningful anniversary, we have to remind that Pope Leo XIII had already celebrated the 65 years from his ordination at the beginning of the past century.

Priesthood is not “a job, but a sacrament. God asks a poor man to be like him, to be with all men and women and to act on their behalf” said Benedict XVI on 11th June 2010, during the homily at the end of the Year for Priests, that he established on the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, saint patron of the priests.

The 12th volume of the dell’Opera Omnia of Joseph Ratzinger “Annunciatori della Parola e Servitori della vostra gioia” is dedicated to the topic of priesthood and it collects more than 80 texts regarding the ecclesial ministry. The subtitle of the book is “Teologia e spiritualità del Sacramento dell’Ordine” and it is about theological-scientific studies, meditations on sacerdotal spirituality and homilies about episcopal, priestly and diaconal service regarding the work of Joseph Ratzinger the theologian, the bishop and the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, covering a period of almost 50 years, from 1954 to 2002.