8th Anniversary of the Election of Benedict XVI

Today is the anniversary of the election of Benedict XVI as Supreme Pontiff.



Remember how people buzzed about the fact that the newly-elected Benedict obviously was wearing a black long-sleeved sweater under his new white cassock rather than double-cuffs and cufflinks?

Bzzzzz… bzzzzz… bzzzzz…


Where were you? What were your thoughts at the time?

I was in Rome, on an uncomfortable chair, with an earpiece in my ear and extremely bright lights in my eyes in front of cameras for Fox News, covering the conclave with Chris Wallace and Greg Burke.

When the Cardinal Deacon said “Josephum”, I almost wrenched Burke’s arm out of its socket.

Here is a photo of the TV screen someone shot and sent me at the time… it is really unflattering (my hairline is receding, but hasn’t been quite that routed yet… not that that matters much), but… the smile was accurate.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. HighMass says:

    One of the Happiest Days for the Church….Sure do remember that Day 8 yrs ago……..such a Brief Pontificate……..Wishing Him Well, and GOOD health……….
    We Miss YOU Benedict XVI

  2. I was glued to the TV, my heart in my mouth. Since the start of the conclave, I’d been saying to myself “If they pick a good ‘un, I’ll do it (i.e. swim the Tiber).”
    Well they did. And I’m 2 years a Catholic now.
    Thank you, Pope Benedict!

  3. Ygnacia says:

    And the 8th. anniversary of my youngest son’s Baptism – my joy was doubled that day~

  4. Gratias says:

    I was driving to work. When thay announced on the radio that the bells were ringing I parked on a side street. When Ratzinger was announced I started shouts of joy, probably shed a tear or two at that unbelievably blessing.

    Benedict did not disappoint. During the eight years of his pontificate he left the Church in much better condition than he found it. Thank you Holy Father Emeritus for your service to our Church.

  5. tperegrinus says:

    I was in an internet cafe in Munich when Pope Benedict was elected, having travelled there from Rome. Checking my emails, I heard the familiar sound of the bells of St Peter’s, which were familiar to me as I had stayed in Rome for a month only 800 steps or so from the Basilica (yes, I counted them). Surrounded by people expressing their desire for a liberal South American Pope (a wish now partially realised in the latter), I told them that Ratzinger was my pick.

    Hearing the word “Josephum” after the Cardinal Protodeacon’s dramatic build-up, which was masterful, and somewhat reminiscent of Blessed John Paul II’s impeccable timing in his early years, I knew it was Ratzinger. I commiserated with the dour lot around me and left the cafe trying to control my excitement. Repairing to my dorm room, I commandeered the TV and watched the news non-stop for the rest of the day, letting Neuschwanstein bus tour wait for another day.

    In 2006, I found myself back in Rome at the New Year’s Eve Te Deum at St Peter’s. I positioned myself strategically where the Pope would enter, and right up against the railings. My (admittedly harebrained) plan of borrowing a baby from somebody to attract the Pope to me was ultimately unnecessary: as the Holy Father’s emerged, he went from railing to railing. Geometry favouring me, Pope Benedict ended up walking straight towards me. I stretched my hand out to him and fixed my eyes to his. He came over and I grabbed his grandfatherly hand, dropped to my knees, and kissed the Fisherman’s Ring. I then looked up to him, speechless, and we both smiled at each other.

    The Holy Father moved on, and I started punching the air, shamelessly shouting at the top of my voice that I’d kissed the Pope’s ring and shaken his hand. The crowd around me obviously thought I was completely crazy and acting highly inappropriately. But they seemed to enjoy my uncontrollable revelry nonetheless.

  6. Mariana says:

    What a happy day!

    I was at home, glued to the TV set. Unfortunately, I then knew nothing about our now dear Pope Emeritus, so wasn’t able to grasp the great grace we had received.

  7. Hank Igitur says:

    Father you look okay, no-one likes their own image on the screen. The look of elation is the important thing!

  8. Inigo says:

    We are going to sing vespers for him with my friends this afternoon! May God bless him!

  9. Lori Pieper says:

    I think I’ve mentioned this before – I was at work, and listened to the news on the radio; this was a year before I started my blog. What a difference watching the election of Pope Francis at home and live-blogging the event!

    I love watching this video, and seeing how gracious the new Pope Benedict was in his smile and gestures. The only thing I had heard about him previously was that he was supposed to be a gloomy sourpuss and an all-around stern fellow! I started to like him right away from that.

    And I love seeing his black sweater peeking out of his sleeves – he was not always about the sartorial splendor – unlike some people, he didn’t take such things too seriously.

    I love the Cardinal Protodeacon’s poker face while making his announcement – until his cute little wave and smile at the end. I’m sure he was having a good time.

    I wonder if Francis and Benedict have exchanged impressions about their first moments on the balcony? (“Feeling like you’ve just been hit over the head with a two-by-four? Yeah, that”).

    Many blessings to our dear Pope Emeritus on this anniversary.

  10. New Sister says:

    What a happy day. I was in Paris and just meeting up for dinner with our parish “groupe d’approfondissement de la foi.” The group’s spiritual director, Père Lataste, informed us about Benoît XVI w/ such enthusiasm and approval… we loved His Holiness right away and ordered champagne to celebrate.

  11. cbmiamiensis says:

    I was driving back from the airport when I heard the news and raced quickly to the parish office hoping for a “good” pope but deeply desiring that Ratzinger had some how been elected. I was present at the funeral of Don Giussani in Milan in late February and had the opportunity to speak briefly with the Cardinal. Thinking at that time, despite the masterfully crafted and tenderly delivered homily, that Ratizinger was “too old and feeble” to be elected.
    Thankfully, I was wrong!
    When proto-deacon announced “Joseph” I too knew it was Ratzinger and started to cry. I got down on my knees in front of our crappy little emergency TV and made the parish secretary , who would have been satisfied (or not) with anyone do the same. She was crying too before he left the loggia, and it wasn’t just from her knees but from a happy heart and seeing the effusive reaction of her pastor.
    I rang the bells a little after the fact but rang them long and hard.
    I love that man, I will always remember him as Benedict the Magnificent.

  12. Mum26 says:

    I remember it well as it was on my birthday. My 6 children and I were glued to the TV.

  13. Andrew says:

    Having read some of his works published by the Ignatius Press I too was hoping for “habemus Papam, Josephum”. Later, when I heard the news (I missed the announcement) I was quietly wondering how it was even possible, that he was chosen, given his strong speech just days before.

  14. nanetteclaret says:

    I knew, then, that it was time to Cross the Tiber.

  15. MattH says:

    I was in my first year of law school, and was walking into the campus gym when Pope Benedict was introduced at the balcony, so I saw it on TV by pure accident. I was not a Catholic then. Cardinal Ratzinger was the only Cardinal I would have recognized, and I had read Dominus Iesus, which I associated with him, so I considered it good news. I did not think then that I would become Catholic under his pontificate, but that is what happened, and I am thankful for his ministry. His clear teaching and leadership certainly helped my transition into full Communion.

  16. mamajen says:

    Sadly, it was barely a blip on my radar. Even if I had been paying attention, I would have had no clue at the time who Cardinal Ratzinger was. My best friends’ mom was dying, I was running around trying to complete my now husband’s immigration paperwork, and planning our July wedding. It was a crazy, crazy time. On top of all that, the sex abuse crisis had hit too close to home just a couple years before and was handled poorly–I was rather fed up with my diocese and the Vatican.

    Things have changed so much (for the better) since. I’m happy that I’m more invested in the goings on of our Church than I used to be. Pope Francis is the first pope that I’ve paid much attention to, but I’ve been learning a lot more about Benedict, too.

  17. TNCath says:

    I was teaching senior English (public school!) when the white smoke appeared. We were reading the poetry of John Donne. When another teacher came to my classroom to announce that we had a Pope, we put John Donne away and turned on the television. When one of my students asked who I thought the new Pope may be, I replied, “I predict it will be Cardinal Ratzinger, but we’ll see soon enough.” When Cardinal Medina made his masterful announcement and the name “Ratzinger” was finally revealed, my students looked at me as if I were some kind of prophet/Vatican insider. It was truly a moment for rejoicing.

    Oremus pro Pontifice emerito nostro Benedicto!
    Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Francisco!

  18. Me says:

    Fr. Z (or anyone else who can help),

    How does one say in proper Latin “Everyone behave” like a parent would say to children?

  19. cbmiamiensis says:

    In May of 2008 I, just a few weeks later, I was in Rome, at Santa Marta, when the guards asked me and a bishop I was with, to wait, because “viene il Papa”. We waited and there within a few feet passed, walking on his own feet without a vehicle, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, gloriously reigning (in the best and most magnificent sense). He looked wonderful, youthful and indeed childlike. This was NOT the man I experienced in the Duomo of Milan a couple months before. The “grace of office” was made manifest in his flesh to my eyes.
    Viva il Papa Emerito!

  20. Volanges says:

    I was at work waiting for internet news. I’d only ever heard Ratzinger referred to in less than glowing terms (my supervisor was a Sister of Mercy) and I remember not being thrilled, supervisor even less so. Later, though, she came to say that we were not being fair, and that we had to let him do his job as Pope and not criticize. I later came to realize that I was as conservative about Liturgy as he was and couldn’t wait to see what he would do next to fix things.

  21. AnnAsher says:

    I was at home. I got the news online. I immediately saw spirit of v2-ers having tantrums- I thought “good. We have a Pope to clean house, bring the hammer and restore the liturgy.”

  22. Chuck3030 says:

    Me, I believe that, depending on the situation, “tacete!” (shut up!) might suffice. I think that “valete” might be what your looking for, but I am not sure. I am only a second semester latin student, so if I made a mistake, please correct me.

  23. coeyannie says:

    I was in Long Beach, CA helping my daughter with my first born grandson. Actually, I was in the liquor store in Long Beach buying a bottle of wine when I heard the news on the TV in the liquor store. I then was quietly praying “thank you God” and clicking my heels together. By the way, that little boy is not yet baptized, nor are parents practicing Catholics. Prayers.

  24. Blog Goliard says:

    I remember going out to grab a salad and slice of pizza for lunch, mindful of the fact that we were due for smoke soon, but pretty confident that it was too early for white smoke.

    I got back to the office and was greeted with video of the white smoke being replayed as we awaited the Protodeacon.

    The rest was much the same eight years ago as it was this year–putting all work aside, watching EWTN live via the internet at my desk (the same one then as now), completely engrossed and in a state of wonder. Though the character of the wonder was a bit different of course: “wow! it’s Ratzinger!” versus “wow! Franciscum! who is Bergoglio again?”

    Which is not a knock on Pope Francis, not in the slightest. Even when I worry about this or that little detail, I love him…he truly had me at “buona sera”. And I trust in the Holy Spirit’s providence for the Church all the more as the times get darker and more perilous.

    But Benedict’s election was special, because I already knew so much about him, already loved him. And as his pontificate advanced, I came to identify with him even more. Even if I live to see a dozen more Popes, I doubt that I will ever understand any of them as well, feel as close to their mind and spirit, love them as much, as Papa Ratzinger.

    Happy anniversary, Holy Father emeritus. I am so grateful; and so sorry for having prayed much less for you than I ought to have.

  25. tmhester says:

    I remember watching that exact FNC coverage and whincing at Chris Wallace’s Latin pronunciation and thinking to myself “Don’t know who that priest is, but I’ll bet he’s dying a little on the inside right now” (because of the lingual abuse).

  26. LaxMom25 says:

    I wasn’t particularly aware of the front-runners, but because we were living in Germany at the time, we knew of Joseph Ratzinger and adored him already. I will never forget the day – I was sitting holding my new baby and was overwhelmed with joy at the announcement. That little baby is receiving his First Holy Communion this May.

  27. celpar says:

    I was many years out of the Church at that point and just beginning to wonder if perhaps I should take another look at things. I only knew a couple of Catholics who were (and are) not, shall we say, Ratzinger fans and they were horrified, consoling themselves with the thought that he was just a caretaker pope who’d be dead in a couple of years. I waited for some thin-lipped Torquemada type to emerge onto the balcony and there was this smiling old man (with the famous sweater peeking out at his wrists) talking about being a humble labourer in the vineyard.

    When I realised that he was a much-published pope, it seemed sensible to see what he had to say about the Catholic faith and while he was not the only influence- within a couple of years I was back in the Church. As I said to my parish priest when the retirement was announced ‘I owe him’. And so I’m sure do many others.

  28. anna 6 says:

    I didn’t know much about him when he appeared on the loggia, but what I had heard was not good. However, I was also aware that this man who presided so beautifully at John Paul’s funeral did not fit the stereotype.

    Pope Benedict’s homily at his inauguration changed my life. I am eternally grateful for the pontificate of this extraordinary man of God. We are so fortunate that he continues to pray for the Church…we must return the favor!

  29. mike cliffson says:

    Duno doing what , do remember thinking “Oh good , its our Ratzi”.
    N how had I got interested in him? – Enemedia attacks, parroted by catholics .The first about 18 -20 ?years ago I remember a good , saintly, catholic woman , mother of quite a large family, with a very hard and exemplary life,the salt of the earth, selfless and generous to a fault, a permanent rare wasting disease shared by half her children, an invalid husband , and the unfortunate habit of listening to priests in sermons and out and reading catholic publications, ranting about Cardinal Ratzinger , about whom I then knew not even the name, for what seemed like five hours: I felt sure she was wrong, so in ver y occasional spare time, investigated, and liked what I found.

  30. GregH says:

    Did anyone smoke a pipe in celebration of his election? Maybe Henry Edwards?

  31. Anchorite says:

    It’s always been humbling for all of us to have this Saint of a man as our Pope. It is even more humbling to know that he stepped aside. What a man!
    Many years to our Holy Father!

  32. HighMass says:


    How Beautifully Said……..Indeed He is a living Saint……was very humble, quiet, and Kind…..

    Really all these remarks are wonderful….if only that aching feeling of the Loss of him as Pope would go away…..

    Love You Benedict XVI!!!!!!!!!!

  33. Animadversor says:

    Me and Chuck3030, I think that one might translate

    How does one say in proper Latin “Everyone behave” like a parent would say to children?

    by bene conversamini omnes or maybe by blandimini omnes. If one wanted to make the injunction really pointed, perhaps one might add vos: bene conversamini vos omnes or blandimini vos omnes, as long as it is understood that vos here is not the reflexive object of the imperative verb, but rather its emphatic subject. You could play around a bit with the relative positions of vos and omnes, as well as with the position of vos[…]omnes/omnes[…]vos in the sentence.

    Conversor is an interesting word. For its use among monks, see the page Becoming a Monk: Conversatio Morum at the site of the Abbey of Saint Mary and Saint Louis, and also the page Conversatio Morumat the site of the same name.

  34. GregH, I haven’t lit a pipe in many years, but I did prostrate myself in thanksgiving at first sound of the name “Josephum”. And I remain today as thankful for Benedict’s glorious papacy as I was in that euphoric moment of a lifetime. His like had not been seen for a thousand years, and may not be again.

  35. bourgja says:

    I was at home watching the coverage, and when Ratzinger was announced I jumped up and whooped with happiness, as though a favorite sports team had won a championship. I remember my cat jumped up startled at my unexpected (and unusual) outburst of emotion. Unfortunately, my reaction to the latest election was shock, dismay, and an eery disquiet.

  36. Allen says:

    I was raking leaves. Being the first papal election of my life I remember being disappointed because he wasn’t a surprise pick. I’ve since fallen in love with PEBXVI. Now I don’t know how I feel about surprise elections!

  37. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I was home sick, and indeed sick as a dog most of the night and day (probably nonovirus, we’d say now). So I was very gratefully asleep when the announcement came, and very grateful and astonished when I woke to hear the news. (Because the Ratzinger Fanclub site had convinced me to read the man’s books and come to love him.)

  38. Rich Leonardi says:

    I was on the treadmill at the gym, watching you and Fox News. I recall letting out a “whoop!” and being surprised by how many people there were interested in the news. At our parish school, the principal went on the PA system and said how special this day must be for first-grade student Benedict Leonardi, my oldest son.

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