Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter's Square
Pope Benedict XVI celebrates his 85th birthday.

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates his 85th birthday on 16 April and he will do so with his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, bishops and a music band from his native land of Bavaria in Germany, at the Vatican.

The Pope started the day with his 88 year old brother by celebrating Mass in the Pauline Chapel, at the Vatican's Apostolic Palace. The German pontiff apparently wanted a silent "family celebration" this year.

"There will be no solemn festivities in the Vatican for the Pope, but rather a family feast, like he himself has asked," Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, Benedict's secretary said in an interview with Italy's La Republica daily.

The pope was born in Marktl in Germany on 16 April 1927, a Holy Saturday, and was baptised that same day as Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger. He later had a promising career as a university professor, pastor and Prince of the Church before being elected to succeed Blessed John Paul II, choosing for himself the name Benedict the XVI.

Incidentally, this week also marks the seventh anniversary of his election as Pope, making him the oldest pontiff of the century.

The leader of the Catholic Church has had a steady stream of well-wishers from all around the world, including the Queen, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Italian Republic. Benedict XVI, during the traditional Sunday blessing at St Peter's Square, asked for the people to pray for his health, amid concerns over his health and possible resignation.

The Pope celebrated Mass with guests from Bavaria and the bishops, in his homily, said the anniversaries of the day of his (the Pope) birth and baptism were always immersed in the Paschal Mystery, the mystery of the Cross and resurrection.

"In a special way, as Holy Saturday, the day of God's silence, the apparent absence of the death of God and yet the day that the resurrection is announced," the Vatican Radio report said.

The Pope continued saying he knows now though he cannot say what the future has in store, because God is the light and Christ is risen, that His light is stronger than all darkness, that God's good is stronger than all the evil in this world.