The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, will celebrate his 85th birthday on 16 April. The pontiff, despite several concerns about his health, has had a relatively active year, making an apostolic journey to Mexico and Cuba. He is now actively participating in Easter celebrations.
The German pontiff is the 265th pope and was elected on 19 April 2005. Check out some facts about the Pope...
- Born as Joseph Ratzinger, he is the youngest of three children. His Joseph Sr., was a police officer. His brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, is a retired priest
- When he was 16, the German Army drafted Ratzinger. However, because of an infected finger, he never learned to shoot and he deserted the army near the end of the war
- The Catholic clergy holds a pilot's license for the papal helicopter and used to fly from the Vatican to the papal summer residence, Castel Gandolfo. However, he does not have a driver's license as he never learned to drive a car
- The 84 year old is is fluent in German, English, Italian, French, and Spanish and has knowledge of Portuguese. He can also speak classical Latin
- The Pope, who is keen on music and reading, took piano lessons as a child. He still enjoys playing the piano and listening to the music of Mozart and Bach
- An animal lover, he adores cats and has two of his own
- Holding on to childhood memories, he still has the stuffed animals his mother made for him when he was a child
- His favorite meal is Bavarian potato ravioli with pancake strips
- At the age of 78, Benedict was the oldest pope to be elected in 275 years
- In 2007, Esquire magazine voted him as one of the best-dressed men in the world and also "Accessorizer of the Year"
- On his 75th birthday, Vatican Radio presented the Pope an iPod nano
- The Pope's sister, Maria, was his housekeeper until she died at the age of 69
- The birthplace of the Pope, Marktl Am Inn house, is open to the public and contains details about the pontiff and his family