Pope Benedict XVI’s Life In Photos

From the Hitler Youth to @Pontifex. A look back at Joseph Ratzinger’s ascension to Pope, as he prepares to resign the title.

1. 1932:


As a 5-year-old in Bavaria, Germany. Benedict XVI was born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger.

2. 1944:

Ratzinger joined the Hitler Youth at age 14 — it’s since been said that he was an “unenthusiastic” member. Here, at 17, he was drafted into the Luftwaffenhelfer.

3. 1951:

German Catholic News Agency

Standing on the right, with his family, after he and his brother (standing left) were ordained.

5. 1958:


As a professor of theology in Germany, age 31.

7. 1971:

With Hans Maier (center), Bavarian Minister of Education, and Abbot Augustin Mayer (right), a future cardinal.

8. 1977:


Ratzinger is appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising.

9. 1980:

With Pope John Paul II, his close friend. One year later, Ratzinger would be appointed President of the International Theological Commission, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

10. 1982:


11. 1985:


At a press conference at the Vatican. During this year, Ratzinger wrote and signed a letter in which he resisted removing a California priest accused of abusing children.

12. 1986:

Gianni Giansanti/Sygma/Corbis

14. 1993:

Gianni Giansanti/Sygma/Corbis

Ratzinger becomes the Cardinal-Bishop of Velletri-Segni.

15. 1999:

In Ratzinger Heights with friends and family.

16. 2002:

Gianni Giansanti

Ratzinger becomes the Dean of the College of Cardinals and Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia.

17. 2005:

Domenico Stinellis/FILE / AP

At St. Peter’s Basilica, on the day he became Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th Pope.

18. 2008:

Philippe Wojazer, Pool, File / AP

At Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.

19. 2012:

Gregorio Borgia / AP


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Jessica Testa is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Jessica Testa at jessica.testa@buzzfeed.com.
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