The Ring of the Fisherman
The ring, cast in gold for each Pope is part of the papal regalia. It features Peter, the first pope and Jesus’s apostle fishing from a boat. There is symbolic value attached to this, laced to the tradition of the apostles being “fishers of men.” The Fisherman’s Ring is a sign used since 1842 to seal official documents signed by the Pope.
Upon a papal death, the ring is ceremonially broken in the presence of Cardinals in order to prevent the sealing of backdated, forged documents. This custom is also planned to be followed after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.
Although Pope Benedict XVI, wore his Fisherman’s Ring daily, it is not the custom for popes to wear it at all.
Residence after Vatican
Where will the pope stay after resigning? This question did rounds and attracted lots of speculation on the web till the Vatican press office broke the silence. According to the office, the Pope will temporarily shift to Castel Gandolfo, a monastery inside the Vatican until after the renovations for his retirement home the Mater Ecclesiae monastery is complete.
The monastery is in the Vatican and has a view of St Peter’s Basilica, being set on a hill. The monastery was formerly the Vatican gardener’s house, but was established as a cloistered convent by Blessed John Paul II in 1994.
According to internet sources, the rules of the Mater Ecclesiae convent specified that the aim of the community living there is “the ministry of prayer, adoration, praise and reparation” in silence and solitude “to support the Holy Father in his daily care for the whole Church.
A life of prayer
For a man who lived one of the most action packed lives in the world, the pope’s mouth piece says he will devote the rest of his life to “prayer throughout the day, mass every day, evening prayers and liturgy of the hours.”
He is likely to retain some of his close and loyal staff to tend to his daily needs. Unconfirmed Italian press reports indicate that he may, like other retired clerics, also receive a monthly stipend of 2500 euros though the Vatican will take care of his lodging and health care.
Account shut after last tweet
The pope sent his first tweet in 2011 from a Vatican account to launch the Holy See’s news information portal. But in the wake of the Church’s badmouthed handling of the child sexual abuse scandal, the Vatican hand-picked Fox News journalist Greg Burke to be its new communications adviser, and with his guidance, it launched Benedict’s own account.
The final tweet from his official @Pontifex account was issued on Wednesday, just moments after he left the altar at St. Peter’s Square where he gave his last public address as pontiff.
A published author
Benedict, a theologian by training, is expected to behave mostly like a retired scholar, doing lots of reading and maybe a little writing. He has published 66 books in his lifetime, most recent, The infancy Naratives, Jesus of Nazareth.
Benedict was rumoured to be working on his fourth encyclical before he announced he would resign. Encyclicals are papal letters to the church, often on pressing matters that carry the weight of the office of the pope with them.
“He had written the encyclical on hope, the encyclical on love, and another one on social justice and charity,” an internet source said, adding that as a retired pope, Benedict’s final encyclical would not carry the weight of the office.
The Papal red shoes
Even when Italy produces some of the finest shoes globally, the Pope’s taste and preference was limited to velvet and silk made “Papal slippers” heavily decorated with gold braid and a gold cross in the middle. In addition to that is a pair of red leather shoes meant for outdoor purposes. Pope John Paul I and John Paul II were buried in the red leather papal shoes. Pope Benedict XVI restored the use of the red papal shoes, which are provided by his personal cobbler. He will also retain them in his retirement.
Pope Benedict XVI, born in 1927 as Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger was the 265th pope, a position which placed him at the helm of both the over a billion size Catholic faith and also the Vatican City State.
The ascension of the German to the papacy in April 2005 still puzzles some. His was a life journey mixed with ups and downs, secularity and pure Catholicism. From serving in the anti-air craft military in the late 1930s, being held as prisoner of war by Americans to joining German dictator, Adolf Hitler’s Hitler Youth brigade in 1941. He turned to studying theology after the war. That was to mark the genesis of a journey to the papacy whose curtains officially came down this week on Thursday.
By the 1950s, the third born of a policeman and hotel cook was not only a priest, but also a distinguished academic, becoming full professor of theology in 1976. After over 22 years in the academia, he was appointed Archbishop of Munich and cardinal by Pope Paul V1 in 1977, a promotion some considered unusual for one with, “little pastoral experience.”
Benedict was originally a liberal theologian, but adopted conservative views after 1968. His prolific writings defend traditional Catholic doctrine and values. During his papacy, Benedict XVI has advocated a return to fundamental Christian values to counter the increasing secularisation of many Western countries.