WHAT’S in a NAMESAKE?
E ACH NEW POPE RENAMES HIMSELF, choosing a saint or holy man whose life, work, and commitment he admires. Pope Benedict XVI told the cardinals that he took his new name—which means “blessed by God”—to honor both St. Benedict and Pope Benedict XV.
St. Benedict of Nursia: Called “THE FATHER OF WESTERN MONASTICISM” , St. Benedict is responsible for spreading Christianity across Europe. Born around 480, he was the founder of a dozen monasteries and the Benedictine order. In the work now referred to as the “Rule of St. Benedict,” this saint directed the contemplative monks “to devote self to prayer, in common with a society of men devoted to the perfect Christian life,” says John Farina, senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. An intellectual order, the Ben-edictines are committed to “radically following the virtues of poverty, chastity, and obedience,” says Farina. Part of the reason Pope Benedict XVI chose the name is that the new pope “has had a long-standing concern about the roles Christianity has played in European culture,” Farina says. Indeed, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, while in Subiaco, Italy, last April, 2005, lamented that Europe had become “the most radical contradiction not only of Christianity but also of religious and moral traditions of all humanity.”
Pope Benedict XV: Trained for the papal diplomatic service and with a history that included relief work, Benedict XV became pope in 1914 just before the outbreak of World War I. He remained neutral, but he spoke out against brutal weapons like poison gas and sought unsuccessfully to broker peace. He worked to help refugees, provided space in the Vatican where prisoners of war and their families could be reunited, and persuaded Switzerland to take in tubercular soldiers from both sides of the conflict. His papacy ended with his sudden death in 1922.
U. S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT
May 2, 2005. (Pg. 33)
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