.- Unlike the stern image portrayed in the media of Pope Benedict XVI in the days following his election, the German-born pontiff demonstrated a very different portrait of himself during a meeting with his fellow countrymen Monday. Upon his arrival, he shook hands with pilgrims and blessed a child handed to him, reported the Associated Press. He arrived to the meeting late and apologized, explaining that the meeting with religious leaders had run over. "The Germans are used to punctuality," he joked. "I'm already very Italian."
Benedict was reportedly interrupted several times by applause and cheers. "Benedict sent from God!" they chanted. In German, the chant rhymes: "Benedikt Gott Geschickt."
He recounted to the pilgims the feelings and thoughts that ran through him during the conclave at the realization that God might be calling him to something,which Benedict felt, was beyond his abilities.
"As the trend in the ballots slowly made me realize that — in a manner of speaking the guillotine would fall on me — I started to feel quite dizzy," the 78-year-old pope said in German, smiling and chuckling. "I thought that I had done my life's work and could now hope to live out my days in peace.
"I told the Lord with deep conviction, 'Don't do this to me. You have younger and better [candidates] who could take up this great task with a totally different energy and with different strength.'"
"Evidently, this time he didn't listen to me," Benedict joked.
He said that during the conclave, a cardinal wrote him a note, which read: “If the Lord should now tell you, 'Follow me,' then remember what you preached. Do not refuse. Be obedient.”
“This touched my heart,” Benedict told his audience. “The ways of the Lord are not comfortable, but we were not created for comfort, but for greatness, for good.
"So in the end, all I could do was say yes,” he said. “I am trusting in God, and I am trusting in you, dear friends."