Benedict heads home to Bavaria, Germany

Pope Benedict, a reluctant traveller compared to his globetrotting predecessor, leaves tomorrow for a five day trip to Germany including a visit to his Bavarian home town "to see again the places where I grew up".

The Pope will briefly visit Marktl am Inn, the town where he was born and spent the first two years of his life, stop at the graves of his sister and parents, the International Herald Tribune reports.

Born on 16 April 1927, in Marktl am Inn in the diocese of Passau, Pope Benedict spent most of his childhood, youth and student days within the borders of the archbishopric of Munich and Freising.

"I want to see again the places where I grew up, the people who touched and shaped my life; I want to thank these people," Benedict said in an interview with German TV networks last month, expressing embarrassment about the fuss.

"I blush when I think of all the preparations that are made for my visit, for everything that people do," he said. "My house was freshly painted, a professional school redid the fence."

It will be Benedict's fourth trip and his second since becoming pope to Germany, which he first visited to mark the Church's World Youth Day.

Cardinal Avery Dulles, an American theologian who is 88, told the Herald Tribune that it was perfectly natural that Benedict is "going back toward his roots. As we get older, we tend to like to do that."

German News adds that upon his arrival in Munich on Saturday afternoon, Pope Benedict will pray at the Marienplatz before meeting with government representatives, including German Federal President Köhler.

Chancellor Angela Merkel will also greet the Pope at the airport as will the Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, who invited the Pope to Bavaria, and German bishops.

The Pope will then drive in the popemobile to the centre of Munich, the last part of the way, from the Ducal Georgianum (Herzogliches Georgianum) on Professor Huber Square to Marienplatz.

High Mass at the open-air ground of the Munich Trade Fair Centre, vespers with parents, catechists, teachers of religion and Holy Communion children in the cathedral, Benedict XVI will arrive at the open-air grounds at the Munich Trade Fair Centre on Sunday.

Pope Benedict XVI making homecoming pilgrimage to Germany (International Herald Tribune, 7/9/06)
Pope Benedict XVI's Bavarian visit tour in September 2006 -German News, 5/9/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Benedict-in-Bayern Website

Back to Bach as Benedict cancels Christmas concert (CathNews 1/9/06)
Benedict's meeting with German chancellor resurrects EU controversy (CathNews 30/8/06)
Benedict set to embark on first international mission (12/8/05)
Ratzinger becomes Pope Benedict XVI (20/4/05)

8 Sep 2006