Pope's dad found "good Catholic girl" in personal ad

German newspapers are reporting that Benedict XVI's parents met after the Pope's father advertised in a local Catholic newspaper seeking "a good Catholic girl, who can cook and sew a bit".

The German paper, Bild am Sonntag said 43-year-old Joseph Ratzinger senior placed an advertisement as a "low-level civil servant" seeking "a good Catholic girl ... to marry as soon as possible, preferably with a picture," in a Bavarian paper in March 1920.

Four months later - by now a "mid-ranking civil servant" - he posted a similar notice in the same paper, and this time received a reply from Maria Peintner, 36, an illegitimate baker's daughter, the paper reported.

The second advert in the Altoetting weekly Liebfrauenbote stressed policeman Ratzinger's "irreproachable past" and said that while it would be "desirable" if his bride had some money, it was "not a condition" for marriage.

Both brothers were said yesterday to be taken aback by the discovery of the lonely hearts advertisement found in the Bavarian state archives by a researcher for the tabloid Bild.

Joseph Ratzinger senior's advertisement read: "Middle-ranking civil servant, single, Catholic, 43, immaculate past, from the country, is looking for a good Catholic, pure girl who can cook well, tackle all household chores, with a talent for sewing and homemaking with a view to marriage as soon as possible."

The Pope remembers his father as "strict but fair" and his mother as "warm and open-hearted".

The point of his pilgrimage in his homeland, which continues until Thursday, is to urge Europe to return to its Christian roots - just as the Pope is setting out to return to his own religious roots.

Pope's parents 'met through personal ad' (Courier-Mail, 11/9/06)

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12 Sep 2006