Benedict XVI shares a 90th birthday beer with family and friends

(Crux) Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI actually turned 90 years old on Sunday, but because the day was Easter, his closest aide Archbishop George Gänswein announced that a “modest” celebration would be held today instead, the day that Italians observe as Pasquetta, meaning the Monday after Easter.

What “modest” means for a retired pope living on Vatican grounds, however, is a bit different than for the rest of us.

Benedict XVI passed the day in the company of his beloved 93-year-old brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, as well as a small delegation from his native Bavaria in southern Germany. Among other things, the party enjoyed some beer and pretzels, both considered staples of Bavarian cuisine.

The emeritus pope today lives in a former monastery within the Vatican, called the Mater Ecclesiae, which was created by St. John Paul II as a residence for cloistered nuns who would pray for the intentions of the papacy.

On April 12, Pope Francis visited his predecessor to wish him a happy birthday. The Vatican stamp and coin office also celebrated the pope emeritus’s birthday with the release of stamps marking important events in the life of the church spanning almost 2,000 years. [More]