.- Pope Benedict XVI received in a private audience this week a group of old friends and acquaintances of the city of Pentling, where he lived for several years, and although he did not mention a specific date, he assured them he would visit the German city of Ratisbona in 2006, as well as the city of Pentling and his childhood home. The Holy Father met with representatives of Pentling’s city council as well as other residents of the city in the Vatican’s Swiss Hall. Father Wolfgang Beinert, professor at the University of Regensburg and old friend and colleague of the Pope, said he had been preparing the entire year for this trip to Rome, even before anyone imagined that his old friend would be elected Pontiff.
A joyous Pope Benedict spent two and half hours with the guests, recalling his days in Pentling and even reminiscing about the pets of his old neighbor, Rupert Hofbauer.
The mayor, Albert Rummel, presented the Pope with a painting of his old home, “so that when your Holiness feels nostalgia, you can glance at it.” “I feel very proud to be here today,” he added.
He also gave the Holy Father a book that was signed by all the citizens of Pentling offering their congratulations for his election as Pope, as well as pictures drawn the some of the town’s children, expressing their best wishes to the Pontiff. The audience concluded with a Mass at which the Holy Father presided, accompanied by Father Beinert.