August 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – We were thrilled with joy when Pope Benedict’s private secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, kindly informed us that the Pope emeritus accepted our request to visit him and invited us for a private audience in his current residence at the monastery Mater Ecclesiæ in the Vatican gardens.
Our first encounter with Archbishop Gänswein was a little over three years ago, when he ordained don Johannes to the priesthood. This was his first priestly ordination as archbishop. This year he also ordained our new young priest, don Fabian, who together with his brother don Patrick regularly visits Pope Benedict’s brother Msgr. Georg Ratzinger in Regensburg and reads aloud books and publications, which the 95-year-old monsignor cannot read on his own, due to his very poor eyesight. After one of these reading sessions, we made a photographic portrait of him, which in the end made it into the hands of his brother, Pope Benedict, who had it framed and placed on the wall in his study, thanking us personally afterwards.
Before the audience began, we had our own ideas of what the encounter would look like, but once His Holiness entered the room, we were impressed beyond all our expectations with his calmness and noble appearance. Even the pure fact of sitting so close to a Roman Pontiff for a half an hour is a very special experience in and of itself that we will never forget.
It was this gracious look in his eyes that was so telling about his deep spiritual life. I have never seen so much peace and serenity in a person’s eyes. One could tell that he is absolutely calm and ready to meet our Lord Jesus Christ eye to eye with a clear conscience.
We talked about various topics in a very charitable and respectful atmosphere. The Pope emeritus listened with much patience and attention to each and every one of us. He spoke a bit quietly, but that is completely understandable when his age is taken into account. Nevertheless, intellectually he is completely sharp and perspicacious as always.
At the end of the audience, Pope Benedict presented us with rosaries and images of his 60th priestly jubilee and bestowed us with his blessing. After we left the monastery, we went up to the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican gardens to thank Our Lady for this undeserved mercy.