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Reasons for choosing the name Benedict

Reflection by Papa Benedict XVI      
General Audience, Wednesday 27 April 2005 - in Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dearest Brothers and Sisters,
I am happy to welcome you and I address a cordial greeting to those present here, as well as to those who are following us via radio and television. As I have already expressed/said in/at my first meeting with the Cardinals, last Wednesday
in the Sistine Chapel, I am experiencing mixed feelings in my soul in these days at the beginning of my Petrine ministry: amazement and gratitude towards God who surprised me the first, in calling me to succeed the apostle Peter; inner trepidation before the immensity of the task and responsibility which have been entrusted to me. However, the certainty of the help of God, of his Most Holy Mother, the Virgin Mary, and of the patron saints gives me serenity and joy; I am also supported by the spiritual closeness of the entire People of God whom, as I had the opportunity to repeat last Sunday, I continue to ask to accompany me with insistent prayer(s).

After the pious departure
of my venerable predecessor John Paul II, the traditional Wednesday general audiences are resuming today. We are returning thus to normality. In this first meeting I would like first of all to dwell upon the name that I chose on becoming Bishop of Rome and universal Pastor of the Church. I wanted to call myself Benedict XVI so as to connect myself in spirit to venerated Pope Benedict XV, who guided the Church in a period troubled because of the First World War. He was a courageous and authentic prophet of peace and strove with strenuous courage first to avert the tragedy of the war and then to limit its harmful consequences. In his footsteps I desire to place my ministry at the service of reconciliation and harmony between men and peoples, profoundly convinced that the great good of peace is above all God's gift, a precious and unfortunately fragile gift that needs to be prayed for, protected and built up day after day with the contribution of everyone.

The name "Benedict" evokes
furthermore the extraordinary figure of the great "Patriarch of Western monasticism", St Benedict of Norcia, co-patron of Europe together with saints Cyril and Methodius, and the women saints Bridget of Sweden, Catherine of Siena and Edith Stein. The progressive expansion of the Benedictine Order founded by him had an enormous influence on the spread of Christianity across the whole Continent. St Benedict is thus highly revered also in Germany and particularly in Bavaria, my birthplace; he constitutes a fundamental reference point for the unity of Europe and a strong reminder of the essential Christian roots of its culture and civilization.

We know the recommendation left by this Father of Western Monasticism
in his Rule to the monks: "Absolutely nothing precedes Christ" (Rule 72, 11; cf 4, 21). At the beginning of my service as Successor of Peter, I ask St Benedict to help us hold firm to the centrality of Christ in our existence. May He always be in the first place in our thoughts and in each of our activities!

My thoughts return with affection to my venerable predecessor John Paul II, to whom we are indebted for an extraordinary spiritual heritage. "Our Christian communities" - he wrote in his apostolic letter Novo Millennio Ineunte - "must become authentic "schools" of prayer, where the encounter with Christ is expressed not only in imploring help, but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening, ardent affection, all the way to a true invasion of the heart" (n 33), as was the case with Pope John Paul II. He sought to put these indications into practice himself by dedicating
the most recent Wednesday catecheses to commentary on the Psalms of Lauds and Vespers. As he did at the beginning of his pontificate, when he wanted to continue the reflections begun by his predecessor on the Christian virtues (cf General Audience, 25 October 1978), so I also intend to revive in the upcoming weekly meetings the commentary prepared by him on the second part of the Psalms and Canticles which comprise Vespers. Next Wednesday therefore I will take up exactly from where his catecheses were interrupted, from the general audience of 26th January.

Dear Friends, thank you again for your visit, thank you for the affection with which you surround me. They are sentiments that I cordially reciprocate with a special blessing, which I impart to you here present, to your relatives and to all your loved ones."


"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins francophones, notamment du Gabon et les jeunes de l’école de Courset, de l’aumônerie Notre-Dame de Vauvert, de Corse, de Nantes. À tous, j’accorde la Bénédiction apostolique.

I extend a special welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims here today, including groups from England, Wales, Ireland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Australia, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Singapore and the United States of America. Thank you for the affection with which you have greeted me. Upon all of you, I invoke the peace and joy of Jesus Christ our Lord!

Einen frohen Gruß richte ich an die Pilger und Besucher aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Danke, liebe Freunde, für euer Gebet und für eure Zuneigung, mit denen ihr mich und meinen Dienst begleitet! Von Herzen erteile ich euch allen sowie euren Familien und Freunden meinen Segen.

Saludo ahora a los peregrinos españoles y a la Estudiantina del Instituto católico "La Paz" de Querétaro (México), así como a los demás fieles venidos de España y América Latina, y a cuantos están unidos a través de la radio o la televisión. Queridos amigos: gracias por vuestro afecto; os bendigo a todos, a vuestras familias y seres queridos.

Pozdrawiam pielgrzymów języka polskiego. Dziękuję wam za dobroć i za modlitwy. Z serca wam błgosławię.


Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare, saluto i fedeli dell’Arcidiocesi di Spoleto-Norcia, accompagnati dal loro pastore Mons. Riccardo Fontana, i Seminaristi di Bergamo, e gli studenti del Liceo "Cairoli" di Vigevano. Tutti invito a continuare nell’impegno di adesione a Cristo, testimoniando il Vangelo in ogni ambito della società.

Il mio pensiero si rivolge, infine, ai giovani, ai malati e agli sposi novelli. Il Signore risorto riempia del suo amore il cuore di ciascuno di voi, cari giovani, perché siate pronti a seguirlo con entusiasmo; sostenga voi, cari malati, perché accettiate con serenità il peso della sofferenza, e guidi voi, cari sposi novelli, perché facciate crescere la vostra famiglia nella santità.

Concludiamo il nostro incontro, cantando la preghiera del Padre Nostro."