Benedict XVI

The following comes from a February 20 Catholic News agency story.

Pope Benedict XVI, at age 84, never goes to sleep before 11:00 p.m., prays the Rosary every day, gets up at 5:00 a.m. and uses a cell phone only accessible by his closest advisers.

In an article published online at on Feb. 17, Italian journalist Aldo Maria Valli documents a day in life of the Pope, who wakes up when Vatican City “is still immersed in silence.” 

Valli says the Bavarian pontiff is a “typical German, a methodic man” who “likes to organize his day down to the last detail, according to a very precise schedule.”

Benedict XVI begins his day by celebrating Mass in the papal chapel at 7:00 a.m., together with his two personal secretaries, Father Georg Ganswein and Father Alfred Xuereb.

Other members of the papal household who also attend the Mass include the Pope’s assistants – Carmela, Loredana, Cristina and Rosella – who are all consecrated women belonging to the Memores Domini community of the movement Communion and Liberation, as well as his personal valet, 46 year-old Paolo Gabriele, who is married and has three children.

After the Mass, which is always celebrated in Italian, Benedict XVI has breakfast at 8:00 a.m. and then heads to his study, where he remains working until 11:00 a.m. His office always has a crucifix and two phones, one of which is a cell phone with a number only accessible to his closest collaborators.

Valli says the Pope likes to stay informed of current events around the world and reads news reports in various languages, including German, Italian, English, French and Spanish. He also devotes some time to answering important correspondence.

Once finished with his morning work, the Pope holds meetings with visiting heads of state, ambassadors and other representatives on the second floor of the Apostolic Palace.

The meetings are usually held in the Papal Library, depending on the number of visitors and the solemnity of the occasion. The visits usually last for around two hours. On Wednesday, they are interrupted by the Pope’s General Audience, which takes place at the Paul VI Hall or at St. Peter’s Square.

At 1:30 p.m. the Holy Father has lunch with his two secretaries. Rarely do they ever have a guest, and the menu is usually Mediterranean. Benedict XVI never drinks wine, always orange juice, Valli says.

After lunch the Holy Father enjoys a short walk for no longer than 10 minutes together with his secretaries around the balconies of the Apostolic Palace “adorned with lemon and orange trees and that provide a splendid view of Rome.” On these walks there is usually no talking about work.

The Pope rests for one hour and at 3:30 p.m. he returns to his study. He devotes the rest of the afternoon to writing documents, speeches and homilies. He does not use computers but writes everything by hand, and afterwards his texts are transcribed and translated.

Valli says the pontiff is an “extremely careful” writer who enjoys “retreating into his study to write in peace, with personal control over his sources by consulting his vast personal library.”

At 5:30 p.m. he signs documents prepared for his signature by his secretaries and then meets with some of his closest collaborators, such as Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, and others.

The Pope then goes downstairs to take another walk, this time in the Vatican Gardens. He is usually joined by one or both of his secretaries and they pray the rosary before a replica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.

A light dinner is usually served at 7:30 p.m. At 8:00 p.m. the Pope returns to his study and later goes to the chapel for night prayers.

He “never goes to bed before 11:00 p.m.,” Valli writes. “All the proof you need is to just walk through St. Peter’s Square around that time and see what time the light is shut off in the window of the top floor of the Apostolic Palace.”

That’s when the entire Vatican City shuts down for the night, except for the security guards and a few engineers, Valli says.



Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012 2:56 AM By CGS
The Holy Father does more in one day than I do in one week! His discipline and stamina are amazing.

Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012 6:24 AM By JLS
Well, I hope they don’t appoint me as pope, since that schedule does not look too appealing.

Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012 6:47 AM By Angelo
It is well-known that the Holy Father loves Mozart and cats. I am curious: Does the Pope smoke? A friend who has lived in Rome for many years and knew the Holy Father when he was Cardinal Ratzinger reported that the Pope likes to smoke cigarettes – specifically, American made cigarettes. Another friend who is a priest indicated that the Holy Father does smoke cigarettes but gives them up for lent every year. God Bless Pope Benedict!

Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012 7:34 AM By SegoLily
A day filled with prayer, friendship, the beauty of the natural world, personal reflection, composition and correspondence…may our Holy Father enjoy many more of these earthly golden moments. His 85th birthday is coming up on April 16th–lets swarm the Vatican with birthday cards filled with love and good wishes! He needs to know how much he is loved.

Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012 9:23 AM By Steve Woodland
Does he still practice the piano?

Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012 9:48 AM By Laura
Does anyone here know: Have there ever been any Papal pets? If so, which of our Holy Fathers, and what type of pets? What a touching endearment that would be. As we all know, a pet loves and expects nothing in return. Just a silly thought.

Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012 10:35 AM By Tweety
@Laura…I have seen photos of Pope Pius XII with a bird–I believe it was a parakeet–on is finger.

Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012 12:07 PM By Mary
Benedict smokes? This is hilarious. You mean he is exposing his workplace to the secular devil of secondhand smoke? Ha! I love him all the more now.

Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012 2:25 PM By Dana
No, I don’t think so, Laura, but he loves cats. As you know Chico the cat across the road from his old house in Germany has written a biography of Pope Benedict,“Joseph and Chico: The Life of Pope Benedict XVI as Told by a Cat” . I’ve heard there is a sequel.

Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012 2:35 PM By FHKJ
Angelo: your post, “to coin a phrase”, is “simply absurd”!

Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012 7:02 PM By Angelo
FHKJ: I am curious about the Holy Father whom I deeply respect. There is papal cologne. Perhaps a brand of cigarettes in the Pope’s honor: Holy Smokes? Of course, I am kidding!

Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012 9:17 PM By MacDonald
I have also heard of the book about the Holy Father written by his cat Chico. In Austria, rumors abound that a certain very famous book was written for Chico: YouCat. [Of course, this only works in English, not in the original German.]

Posted Friday, February 24, 2012 1:06 AM By PAT
Let us pray daily for our Holy Father, not only for his intentions, but that he be protected from his enemies.

Posted Friday, February 24, 2012 3:30 AM By Angelo AVP
Angelo, I see there is another Angelo on board on calcathdaily. Here goes another name change for me. I’m adding part of my 3rd Order Carmelite name, Alter Victimae Paschali or AVP. The article says the Holy Father’s daily Masses are always in Italian. Are they sure? Paul Vl, John Paul l, Bl. John Paul ll always said their daily Masses in the language of the Church, Latin and Ad Orientem. I can’t imagine Pope Benedict XVl saying his daily Mass in any other language but that of the Church, of which he is the Vicar.

Posted Friday, February 24, 2012 7:25 AM By JLS
“Du Katz”, or “sie Katz” auf Deutsch? “DuKatz” sounds a lot like ducat, a word for a gold coin in pre-WWI Europe, and also an awesome Italian motorcycle. But is there a connection to “YouCat”? Which would be preferred generally? Oh, hey, dude, hold on here, just uno momento: Check this out, “YouCat” is hep talk, jive, lingua franca, woid on da street. Eg, “Hey, you cats over there”, or “hey, you cat, there”, time to shuffle. And last but not least, Chico was one of the Marx Brothers, a family of comedians similar to many Catholics in some liturgical ways.

Posted Friday, February 24, 2012 7:59 AM By Larry
I believe Pius XII had several little birds as pets–one he named “Gretl,” I believe. I’ve also seen a photograph of him in the Vatican Gardens with lambs.

Posted Friday, February 24, 2012 10:27 AM By MacDonald
I just searched on the WWW and it seems even the original German version of the YouCat is called YouCat, which surprised me. I guess ours is such an important language that even the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna (Austria) who wrote the book, with a forward composed by the Holy Father himself, chose an English name. I’m sure the Cardinal and the Pope were NOT amused, though, when those zany Italian translators made a huge mistake last year and said contraception was okay — they should have done their homework better!!! All those books had to be discarded, and a better translation done. Imagine the Holy Father’s shock when a book with his approval got translated in such an incorrect manner.