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Why did Benedict XVI choose that name when he was elected pope? What does it mean?

As the health state of Benedict XVI worsens, we go down memory lane to the beginning of the former pope’s ministry

As the health state of Benedict XVI worsens, we go down memory lane to the beginning of the former pope’s ministry

On Wednesday, the Vatican announced that retired Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI‘s health has worsened over the past hours due to advanced age.

According to Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni, Pope Francis, who asks everyone to pray, went to visit the 95-year-old in the Vatican monastery, where Benedict XVI has lived since retiring in February 2013.

While prayers are being sent the former pope’s way worldwide, let’s go back in history and revisit the start of Benedict’s inauguration.


Where did the name Benedict XVI come from?

Back in 2005, when the Holy Father spoke at the beginning of his ministry, Benedict XVI shared his “awe and gratitude to God” to succeed the Apostle Peter, as well as why he chose his name:

I wish to speak of the name I chose on becoming bishop of Rome and pastor of the universal Church. I chose to call myself Benedict XVI ideally as a link to the venerated Pontiff, Benedict XV, who guided the Church through the turbulent times of the First World War. He was a true and courageous prophet of peace who struggled strenuously and bravely, first to avoid the drama of war and then to limit its terrible consequences,” he said. Benedict XVI continued that he wants to place his ministry “in his footsteps” in the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples, “profoundly convinced that the great good of peace is above all a gift of God, a fragile and precious gift to be invoked, safeguarded and constructed, day after day and with everyone’s contribution.”

He also stated that the name Benedict “evokes the extraordinary figure of the great ‘patriarch of western monasticism,’ St. Benedict of Norcia, co-patron of Europe with Cyril and Methodius. The progressive expansion of the Benedictine Order which he founded exercised an enormous influence on the spread of Christianity throughout the European continent. For this reason, St. Benedict is much venerated in Germany, and especially in Bavaria, my own land of origin; he constitutes a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe and a powerful call to the irrefutable Christian roots of European culture and civilization.”

The Pope appealed to St. Benedict for help “to hold firm Christ’s central position in our lives. May he always be first in our thoughts and in all our activities!”