Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pope Francis Meets Pope Emeritus Benedict (Video, Commentary, and Photos)

This is truly remarkable: a pope meets his predecessor.

I'm not sure that this has ever happened in the 2,000 year history of the Church: two popes appear together. (At least, I'm fairly certain that there is no documentation that such an event has taken place before.)

The video plus more pictures are below.

A few of items of note as you watch the footage.

First, Benedict made the long trip out to personally greet Francis as he landed. This was not expected. The heliport is about a mile away from the residence and the trip involves a good bit of walking, a taxing endeavor for the weakened Benedict. The two rode back in a car together. Benedict will also ride with Francis back to the heliport when he leaves.

Second, you'll notice Benedict's surprise as, entering the chapel, Francis forgoes the papal kneeler. Benedict tries to steer him back towards it, clearly humbled by the gesture. Instead, Francis explains that he wishes to kneel down next to Benedict in the same pew, telling him, "We are brothers."

Third, Francis brought Benedict a gift: an icon of Mary, our Lady of Humility. He explained that this was meant to express his gratitude for Benedict's papacy, which was marked by his humility. (UPDATE: John Thavis reports Francis' words as: "Allow me to say – I thought of you, and your pontificate.")

Fourth, after the cameras left, the two talked alone for 45 minutes. They then had lunch with secretaries.

Fifth, you'll note that Benedict is no longer wearing the papal ring, which, following tradition, was destroyed after he left office (though the former pope is usually dead when this happens). Instead he wears the "Council Ring," which Paul VI gave to all the members of the Second Vatican Council at its close. Benedict, of course, was one of the key figures at the council as a young priest. In one of his final addresses as pope, he spoke about his experiences there.



Pat Gohn said...

Thanks Michael for your insights and commentary on this event. I've updated my own post by adding a link to yours!

Anonymous said...

FYI, the second to last picture is photoshopped, and it's been making the rounds since last week. Here's the original for comparison.

Anonymous said...

Just for fun, it appears to me that Francis was in position to use the papal kneeler; Benedict motions to the other, as if saying, "I'll obviously kneel here". Francis seems to think he meant they should kneel together. Benedict, quickly realizing this, motions him to stop and Francis just goes along with it. Whatever the situation really was, it still shows Francis as a humble man. I had tears in my eyes! Thanks for posting!

Michael Barber said...


Thanks for the heads-up! I removed the photoshopped image.

We're shooting for "authenticity" here at TSP. ; )