Former Pope Benedict XVI, whose surprise resignation two years ago shocked the world, is happy to lead “a monastic life” based on studying, praying and playing Mozart on the piano, his aide says.

Behind Pope Benedict XVI is a porfolio of property that includes commercial premises on London's New Bond Street. Photograph: Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis
Behind Pope Benedict XVI?

Born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany, the Pope Emeritus was the first pontiff to quit in almost 600 years. Citing his frail health, the 87-year-old announced his decision on February 11, 2013, and left office two weeks later.

“His typical day starts with Holy Mass in the morning, like always, but a bit later than before, at 7:45 am. Then there is thanksgiving, the book of hours, a quick breakfast,” his secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, told Thursday’s Corriere della Sera newspaper.

“In the morning [Benedict] prays, reads, studies, takes care of correspondence, sometimes receives visits. We have lunch at about one o’clock and then we take a walk in the terrace, two or three strolls, before he takes a nap,” Gaenswein said.

Benedict spends the rest of the day walking in the Vatican gardens, praying and studying some more, before sitting down for dinner at around 7:30 pm and watching the news on Italian TV. After his meals he prays again, and sometimes plays the piano, his aide said.

“He has returned to playing more often over the past few weeks! Mozart especially. But also other pieces that come to his mind on the spur of the moment, he knows the music by heart,” Gaenswein said.

The archbishop, who is also an aide to Pope Francis, denied that there were any rifts between the current pontiff and his predecessor, and insisted that there were no reasons beyond physical exhaustion behind Benedict’s resignation.

“The [Catholic] Church needs a strong helmsman. All other considerations and theories are wrong,” Gaenswein said, adding that the ex-pontiff “has chosen a monastic life. He comes out [of it] only when Pope Francis asks him to, he accepts no other invitations.”



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