Benedict's post-papal life thanks to nuns

  • The 'Mater Ecclesiae' convent on Vatican grounds

Famously, the papacy of Benedict XVI has had a rocky relationship with religious women, especially in the United States. An apostolic visitation of women's orders in America was initiated in 2008, and in 2012, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decreed a sweeping overhaul of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

His post-papal life, however, will in a certain sense be thanks to the nuns.

After a brief period at the summer papal residence at Castel Gandolfo, Benedict XVI plans to move into a former convent on the grounds of the Vatican, which is currently undergoing renovations to accommodate its new resident. It's the "Mater Ecclesiae" monastery, built out of what used to be the headquarters of the Vatican gendarmes.

Christmas-NCR-gifts-half_0.jpgGive a subscription to our award-winning newspaper and save $10.

In 1992, Pope John Paul asked that the facility be converted into an international convent for contemplative sisters, who would pray for the pope and the church. Over the last 20 years, the convent has hosted small groups of sisters from various orders, including the Benedictines, the Poor Clares and the Salesians (also known as the Visitandines). The last group to occupy the convent left in November 2012.

The convent has four floors, two of which contain 12 cells for the sisters who used to live there. There's also a kitchen, a refectory and a small infirmary, as well as a chapel. Part of the renovation currently under way is to install a library, an obvious concession to Benedict's passion for books. Outside is a garden with lemon trees, where the sisters used to cultivate fruits and vegetables using "green" techniques.

Benedict will also depend upon the generosity of women in another sense. His brother, 89-year-old Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, has confirmed that the four consecrated laywomen who belong to Memores Domini, part of the Communion and Liberation movement, who currently run his papal household will follow him to his new residence.

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg


NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.



NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017