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Pectoral cross belonging to Pope Benedict XVI stolen from exhibition case at his home parish in Germany

Retired Pope Benedict XVI is seen in a file photo praying with his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger in his private chapel at the Vatican. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters) See BENEDICT-GERMANY-GEORG June 18, 2020.

TRAUNSTEIN, Germany — A pectoral cross of Pope Benedict XVI that was kept in the parish church of St. Oswald in Traunstein has been stolen, the KNA news agency reported June 20, when German police announced its disappearance.

According to the police report, unknown perpetrators broke open an exhibition case embedded in the wall of the church between 11:45 a.m. and 5 p.m. June 19 and stole the papal cross that was on display, KNA reported.

The late pope, who died on New Year’s Eve 2022, gave the cross to his former home parish shortly after he retired in 2013.

Pope Benedict XVI, who died Dec. 31, 2022, is pictured praying with Mustafa Cagrici, the grand mufti of Istanbul, as he visits the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, Nov. 30, 2006. A pectoral cross given by pope when he resigned in 2013 to the parish church of St. Oswald in Traunstein, Germany, was reported stolen by police June 20, 2023. (OSV News photo/Anatolian News Agency via Reuters)

Joseph Ratzinger was born April 16, 1927, in Marktl am Inn, a village in the state of Bavaria. His father, a police officer, came from a traditional family of farmers from Lower Bavaria. The future pope spent his adolescent years in Traunstein, a small town on the Austrian border. He spent decades in his native Germany as university professor and bishop.

From 1946 to 1951, the young Ratzinger studied philosophy and theology at the University of Munich and at the higher school in Freising. Together with his brother, Georg, he was ordained a priest on June 29, 1951, in the Cathedral at Freising, Germany.

On March 24, 1977, St. Paul VI appointed him archbishop of Munich and Freising.

On Nov. 25, 1981, St. John Paul II appointed him prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope April 19, 2005, taking the name Benedict.

Pope Benedict resigned from papacy Feb. 11, 2013.