A second special day in April – Seven years of Benedict

Three days after celebrating, in his characteristic low-key style, his 85th birthday, Pope Benedict XVI today marks the seventh anniversary if his election as bishop of Rome.In 2005, today was the end of a short conclave and for many younger Catholics (myself included) the first time there would be a different pope than the iconic John Paul II.

And although many say that, at the time, this papacy was expected to be something of a short in-betweener, Pope Benedict XI has managed to step out of the shadow of his much-loved predecessor and make this papacy his own. Just goes to show that the Holy Spirit works in His own way, despite the expectations of the faithful, prelates and even a 78-year-old cardinal who suddenly found himself in the room of tears next to the Sistine Chapel, having to choose which set of pontifical robes to wear for his first public appearance.

Seven years ago today, the new pope spoke the following words:

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,

After the great Pope John Paul II, the Cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble labourer in the vineyard of the Lord.

The fact that the Lord knows how to work and to act even with inadequate instruments comforts me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers.

Let us move forward in the joy of the Risen Lord, confident of his unfailing help. The Lord will help us and Mary, his Most Holy Mother, will be on our side. Thank you.”

Amen! Ad multos annos!

The Holy See has created a special e-mail address for well-wishes to the Holy Father: auguri.benedettoxvi@vatican.va. Not that Benedict will have the time to read them all himself, the sentiment is nice all the same.

Photo credit: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images