Cardinal Ratzinger's Haven in Tuscany

Testimony of Religious of Cloistered Benedictine Monastery

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ROSANO, Italy, APRIL 26, 2005 (Zenit.org).- A spiritual haven of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, was a cloistered convent of Benedictine nuns in this town in the central Italian region of Tuscany.



Cardinal Ratzinger "came often to our abbey," said the Benedictine nuns of St. Mary of Rosano, in a statement.

"The first time was in 1985, on the occasion of a novice's profession," the statement added. "Before leaving, when saying goodbye to the mother of the newly professed, he told her to be happy, as her daughter was in a safe place, in which the Rule of St. Benedict was lived with unique serenity, consistency and joy.

"Since then, His Eminence returned on various occasions, especially on the occasion of Corpus Christi. On that day, our church is full and he captivated everyone with his very profound homilies and the cordial simplicity with which he spent time with each one in the courtyard at the end of the Mass. He used to like to carry the Most Holy Sacrament during the procession, which went through the cloisters and the garden."

"He came to Rosano in June 2001 with his brother priest to celebrate [his] 50th anniversary of priestly ordination," added the religious in their statement.

"Usually he came accompanied by his secretary, now bishop and secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Monsignor Josef Clemens, and by Alfredo, his trusted chauffeur," the statement continued. "He would arrive on Saturday afternoon and leave on Sunday afternoon. He enjoyed going for a long walk in the afternoon in the hills and fields.

"During his visit, he almost always met with the whole community: One immediately felt at ease with him, as he is a very simple, cordial, serene, humble person capable of subtle irony and genuine humor."

"When we asked him to talk to us about the problems that were of particular concern to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Holy Father and the Church, he always showed profound clarity and above all a unique capacity to understand the essence of each question and to present it with simple, concise and at the same time exhaustive words, with a quick and fluid explanation.

"Above all, he never dramatized, but was able to address all difficulties with strength, consistency, confidence and hope which come from faith and prayer."

"For this reason," the nuns' statement added, "we thank God for the gift of this new Pope, Benedict in name and fact." The name means blessed.

At John Paul II's suggestion, the Holy See asked the nuns of Rosano to guide and shape the Benedictine community, made up of women religious from various countries, which last October began a five-year residence in the Vatican's Mater Ecclesiae convent.

At the Mass for the official inauguration of his pontificate, Benedict XVI wore a chasuble made for John Paul II by the Benedictine sisters of Rosano.