As Pope Benedict prepares to return to his native Germany later this week, we want to present some highlights of the 23 foreign trips he has made since his papacy began in 2005.
Here, you can see a list of all his trips, including possible future ones to Iraq, Monaco, Serbia and of course, Brazil in 2013.
The German Pontiff’s journeys to his homeland have always been special and eventful. His first trip abroad was to his native land, to preside over World Youth Day in Cologne in August 2005, where his humility and uncompromising call to, and example of, holiness ensured that the youth gatherings would continue to be vital to the Church, despite the death of their creator John Paul II.
He returned home again in 2006 and on September 12, delivered a lecture on faith and reason in which he quoted an unfavourable remark about Islam. It was a quotation that was used in the context of an address, that looked at the Jewish, Greek and Protestant understanding of the relationship between these two aspects of knowledge. However, there were violent reactions in parts of the Middle-East as well as an ugly protest outside Westminster Cathedral in London. Even today the address and its aftermath raise difficult questions about how to react to intimidation.
On Thursday, trip to Germany number three begins, he will visit his nation’s capital for the first time as Pope, address parliament and magistrates, meet religious leaders and celebrate a Mass at the Olympic Stadium, as during his visit to the UK a year ago, he will encourage the faithful and propose the love of God and the hope He brings to those of no faith.
His namesake saint Benedict is patron of Europe and Joseph Ratzinger has concentrated on that continent, travelling to Spain on three separate occasions, most recently for World Youth Day in Madrid but he has also visited Cameroon and Angola, the Holy Land and during his 81th birthday the USA, where President Bush famously said:
“You’ve chosen to visit America on your birthday. Well, birthdays are traditionally spent with close friends, so our entire nation is moved and honoured that you’ve decided to share this special day with us.”
Of related interest: