On June 29 Benedict XVI will celebrate the 65th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood – a milestone he will commemorate in a special ceremony with Pope Francis inside the Vatican's apostolic palace.

Announced by the Ratzinger Foundation, the ceremony will take place at the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace June 28, the eve of the anniversary. Both Pope Francis and Benedict XVI, who rarely appears outside of the monastery where he lives inside Vatican City, will be present.

Benedict, the Pope Emeritus, will be given a book on the priesthood created specifically for the occasion of the anniversary of his priestly ordination.

Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, now known as Benedict XVI, was ordained a priest June 29, 1951 – the feast of Saints Peter and Paul – in the cathedral of Freising by the then-Cardinal Archbishop of Munich, Michael von Faulhaber. His older brother Georg, who is still alive today, was ordained with him.

Benedict himself spoke of the day he was ordained in his 2005 autobiography titled "Milestones: Memoirs, 1927-1977", which he published shortly before his election as Bishop of Rome, thinking he would instead be going into retirement.

"It was a splendid summer day, which remains unforgettable, as the most important day of my life," he wrote, explaining that there were more than 40 candidates for ordination, and "when we were called we responded 'Here I am.'"

Cautioning the reader not to be superstitious, Benedict recounts how when the elderly archbishop laid his hands on the future Pope's head, "a small bird – perhaps a lark – rose up from the high altar of the cathedral and san a joyful little song."

"For me it was as if a voice from on high were telling me: it's okay, you're on the right path."

While standing in the same cathedral in which he was ordained, Benedict spoke off-the-cuff to priests and deacons Sep. 14, 2006, recalling the day of his ordination.

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"Here I lay prostrate, enveloped by the litany of all the saints, by the intercession of all the saints. I realized that on this path we are not alone, that the great multitude of saints walk with us, and the living saints, the faithful of today and tomorrow, sustain us and walk with us," he said.

"Then came the laying on of hands, and finally Cardinal Faulhaber proclaimed to us: 'Iam non dico vos servos, sed amicos' – 'I do not call you servants, but friends'; at that moment, I experienced my priestly ordination as an initiation into the community of Jesus' friends, called to be with him and to proclaim his message."

In his June 11, 2010, homily for the conclusion of the Year for Priests, which he called to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests throughout the world, Benedict emphasized the importance of the sacramental element of the priesthood.

The priesthood, he said, is not "simply an office, but a sacrament: God makes use of a poor man in order to be, through him, present for men and to act in their favor."


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