Germans bring Bavarian folk festival to papal summer villa
By Catholic News Service
(CNS photos/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- With his 88-year-old brother sitting by his side, Pope Benedict XVI was treated to an evening of Bavarian folk music and dancing, a clear expression, he said, of a "cheerful culture, imbued with joy."
More than 1,000 pilgrims from Bavaria -- the majority of them members of choirs, bands and dance troupes -- joined the pope and his brother Aug. 3 in the courtyard of the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo. The men wore lederhosen and women wore traditional dirndl.
To announce the groups' presence and greet the pope, the Bayerische Gebirgsschutzen -- Bavarian mountain riflemen -- fired several rounds of blanks into the air in the square outside the papal villa. They deposited their weapons outside the pope's summer home before joining the rest of the groups inside.
The Bavarian folk festival was the result of a "musical pilgrimage" organized by the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising, Germany, in honor of the pope's Bavarian roots. Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the archdiocese, said he originally offered the evening to the pope in honor of his 85th birthday, April 16, and the pope suggested having it during the summer at Castel Gandolfo.
The pope "knows the churches, the history, the poetry -- really he has a deep knowledge of everything about the history and popular traditions of Bavaria. So I thought this would be a beautiful gift," the cardinal told Vatican Radio.
At the end of the performances, Pope Benedict told his visitors that Bavarian culture is joyful because it always has emphasized being in harmony with creation and God the creator.
Some people ask if it is right to be so happy "when the world is so full of suffering, when there is so much darkness and so much pain," the pope said. "The answer can only be a 'yes,' because saying 'no' to this joy benefits no one, it only makes the world darker.
"The world is beautiful and God is good and he became man and came to live among us," the pope said. "We know this definitely and concretely: yes, God is good and it is good to be human. We live in this joy, and try to bring this joy to others, to reject evil and to be servants of peace and reconciliation."
To the delight of the crowd of Bavarians, Pope Benedict was in a jovial mood. First he teased Cardinal Marx -- a native of Westphalia -- for his pronunciation of the Bavarian dialect. Then he excused himself from naming each of the performing groups and thanking them one by one, saying, "The memory of an old man isn't reliable."