Pope Benedict XVI

264th successor to St. Peter

pope benedict

On April 18, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected the 264th successor of Saint Peter and chose the name Benedict XVI. His papacy testifies to both a scholarly churchman, having extensively studied theology and philosophy, and pastoral sensitivity. When elected pope at age 78, he didn't anticipate traveling the globe given his age and health, but quickly realized that the best way to reach the people of God was to go to them. He attended the first World Youth Day in Germany just months after his election. On February 28, 2013, Pope Benedict announced his resignation, becoming the first pope in almost 600 years to resign from the papacy. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passed away on December 31, 2022 at the age of 95. Read the full biography of Pope Benedict on the Vatican website.

Vatican Website


Pope Benedict XVI coat of arms

Coat of Arms

Pope Benedict XVI chose the motto "Cooperatores Veritatis" (Cooperators of the Truth) for his coat of arms. The design of the shield takes inspiration from the monastic and Benedictine traditions of spirituality. The shield contains symbols he had already used in his arms when he was Archbishop of Munich and Freising, and subsequently as Cardinal. Read the full description of his Coat of Arms on the Vatican's website.

Quick Facts

Date of Birth April 16, 1927
Country of Origin Bavaria, Germany
Area of Study Theology & Philosophy
Priesthood Ordination June 29, 1951
Episcopal Ordination May 28, 1977
Pontificate April 19, 2005 - February 28, 2013  
Date of Death December 31, 2022
Personal Motto Cooperatores veritatis (Cooperators of the truth)

Pope Benedict XVI Short Biography


  • 1927

    April 16 -  Born Joseph Ratzinger in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria, Germany, and baptized the same day

  • 1939

    Enters minor seminary in Traunstein

  • 1946-1951

    Studies philosophy and theology at the Higher School of Philosophy and Theology of Freising and the Herzogliches Georgianum, a theological institute associated with the University of Munich.

  • 1941

    By law is required to enter the “Hitler Youth” at age 14 and then gets drafted into the German army at age 16. Deserts the army in 1945 with his brother Georg to rejoin the seminary. 

  • 1951

    Ordained a priest for Diocese of Munich

  • 1953

    Earns doctorate in theology from University of Munich

  • 1957

    Qualifies for university teaching and writes his dissertation on The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure.

  • 1962-1965

    Participates in Second Vatican Council as a theological adviser

  • 1977

    Named archbishop of Munich and Freising

  • 1977

    Named to the College of Cardinals

  • 1981

    Named head of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

  • 1986-1992

    Serves as president of the Preparatory Commission for the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

  • 1993

    Elevated by Pope John Paul II to the Order of Bishops within the College of Cardinals, assigning to him the suburbicarian (titulary) see of Velletri-Segni.

  • 1998

    Pope John Paul II approves of the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as the Vice Dean of the College of Cardinals.

  • 2002

    Pope John Paul II approves of the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as the Dean of the College of Cardinals and gives him the title of Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia.

  • 2005

    Elected pope, chooses the name Pope Benedict XVI

  • 2008

    Apostolic Visit to the United States

  • 2013

    Resigns from the papacy, the first such resignation in almost six hundred years

  • 2022

    December 31 - date of death.  Pope Benedict passed away in his residence at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican Gardens

Pope Benedict XVI Quotes

  • Pope Benedict XVI
    "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction." (Deus Caritas Est, 1)

    – Pope Benedict XVI

  • Pope Benedict XVI
    "The ways of the Lord are not easy, but we were not created for an easy life, but for great things, for goodness." (Address to German Pilgrims who had come to Rome to attend the inauguration of his Pontificate, April 25, 2005)

    – Pope Benedict XVI

  • Pope Benedict XVI
    "We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires." (Homily as Dean of the College of Cardinals, April 18, 2005)

    – Pope Benedict XVI

  • Pope Benedict XVI
    "God is not distant: he is 'Emmanuel,' God-with-us. He is no stranger: he has a face, the face of Jesus." (Urbi et Orbi, December 25, 2010)

    – Pope Benedict XVI

  • Pope Benedict XVI
    "Dear friends, may no adversity paralyze you. Be afraid neither of the world, nor of the future, nor of your weakness. The Lord has allowed you to live in this moment of history so that, by your faith, his name will continue to resound throughout the world." (Prayer Vigil with Young People before 26th World Youth Day in Madrid, 2011)

    – Pope Benedict XVI

  • Pope Benedict XVI
    "The Cross reminds us that there is no true love without suffering, there is no gift of life without pain." (General Audience, September 17, 2008)

    – Pope Benedict XVI

  • Pope Benedict XVI
    "If we allow the love of Christ to change our heart, then we can change the world. This is the secret of authentic happiness." (Apostolic Journey to Mexico and the Republic of Cuba, March 2012)

    – Pope Benedict XVI