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Who was Pope Benedict XVI named after?



Philip Kosloski - published on 12/31/22

Pope Benedict XVI explained why he chose his name in his first general audience after he was elected.

Each new pope has the opportunity to choose his papal name, and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger decided on “Benedict XVI.”

This name is different from those of many of his predecessors, who chose names such as Paul and John Paul.

There were two primary reasons why he chose the name Benedict XVI, which he revealed in his first general audience after being elected.

Benedict XV

He explained that his name choice was influenced by his predecessor, Benedict XV.

I wanted to be called Benedict XVI in order to create a spiritual bond with Benedict XV, who steered the Church through the period of turmoil caused by the First World War. He was a courageous and authentic prophet of peace and strove with brave courage first of all to avert the tragedy of the war and then to limit its harmful consequences. Treading in his footsteps, I would like to place my ministry at the service of reconciliation and harmony between persons and peoples, since I am profoundly convinced that the great good of peace is first and foremost a gift of God, a precious but unfortunately fragile gift to pray for, safeguard and build up, day after day, with the help of all.

St. Benedict of Nursia

The second reason for the choice was his devotion to St. Benedict of Nursia.

The name Benedict also calls to mind the extraordinary figure of the great “Patriarch of Western Monasticism,” St. Benedict of Norcia, Co-Patron of Europe together with Sts. Cyril and Methodius and the women saints, Bridget of Sweden, Catherine of Siena and Edith Stein. The gradual expansion of the Benedictine Order that he founded had an enormous influence on the spread of Christianity across the Continent. St Benedict is therefore deeply venerated, also in Germany and particularly in Bavaria, my birthplace; he is a fundamental reference point for European unity and a powerful reminder of the indispensable Christian roots of his culture and civilization.

We are familiar with the recommendation that this Father of Western Monasticism left to his monks in his Rule: Prefer nothing to the love of Christ” (Rule 72: 11; cf. 4: 21). At the beginning of my service as Successor of Peter, I ask St. Benedict to help us keep Christ firmly at the heart of our lives. May Christ always have pride of place in our thoughts and in all our activities!

His choice of name was unique and had a profound depth of meaning that helped guide him during his pontificate.

PopePope Benedict XVI
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