.- Catholics and non-Catholics alike are working together to celebrate Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming birthday. Throughout Germany and Austria, plans are underway for concerts and Masses, as well as special charity funds and even a set of commemorative stamps.
A number of cities in the German state of Bavaria, the native region of Pope Benedict XVI, have created a special fund for the Church’s work in the Holy Land which they will present to the Pope as a gift on his 80th birthday on April 16.
Several communities in Bavaria have collected some $13,000 which they will send to the Pope for the Church’s work in the Holy Land. Together with the monetary fund, officials said they will give the Pope a few cases of Bavarian beer, which will be delivered to the Pontiff by Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, Archbishop Emeritus of Munich and Freising.
All across Bavaria, Masses, concerts, and special events will be held to celebrate the Pope’s birthday. In Altötting concerts will be held on Saturday and Sunday featuring the music of Mozart and Beethoven. A special Mass will also be celebrated on Saturday in honor of the Pope.
On Sunday at the Cathedral of Regensburg Mass will also be celebrated for the Pontiff. Following the Mass concert will take place outside the Cathedral.
On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI will continue celebrating his birthday at a gathering with 2,000 students at the Vatican.
Austria's post office issued a special €1 stamp on Thursday in honor of the Holy Father.
The stamp features a smiling Benedict, wearing a crimson robe, a white skullcap and a golden cord with a crucifix around his neck. St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican crest are in the background.
Austria Post AG expects the special issue of 500,000 stamps to sell out well before Benedict's birthday on Monday.
The Pope is scheduled to visit Austria in September. Most Austrians are Roman Catholic.
Germany too is getting ready to celebrate Benedict XVI’s 80th birthday with a stamp. A special-issue stamp worth 55 (Euro) cents was issued on April 12th, with an extraordinary run of ten million four hundred thousand pieces.
A special exception had to be made for the stamp; under German law only the living presidents of the Republic can have a stamp issued in their honor.
The stamp shows a smiling Pope, his arms outstretched, with the Papal coat of arms in the background and these words: “Papst Benedikt XVI. 55. Deutschland. 2007”.
Commemoration of the Pope’s scholarship
The Pope’s commitment to academics is also being taken into account. The “Papst Benedikt-Lehrstuhl”, or “Pope Benedict’s chair” is being established in Regensburg. The local Bishop, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, and the President of the Alf Zimmer University announced that a “chair” will soon be established at the university to give access to the scientific works of Joseph Ratzinger the theologian, whose complete works will be published.
In addition Cardinal Karl Lehmann, President of the German Bishops Conference has also announced the publication of a book containing one hundred statements made by the Pope about the “Joy of God”, published by “Neue Stadt.”