A life in pictures: Pope Benedict XVI

A selection of images from the life of the 265th Pope Joseph Ratzinger

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The Independent Online

Born in Bavaria, Germany on 16 April 1927, Joseph Ratzinger was the second son and youngest child of a policeman father. He was conscripted into the Hitler youth with the majority of his peers aged 14 and experienced first-hand the Nazis' hostility towards Catholicism when he saw the Parish priest being beaten before mass. Ratzinger went on to study philosophy and theology and became a professor at the University of Freising.

Given his upbringing, Ratzinger seemed an unlikely candidate for the role of the Pope. However, following the death of Pope John Paul II, the man who said he never wanted to be the head of the Catholic Church was appointed Pope Benedict XVI in April 2005. He was the oldest person to be elected Pope since Clement XII in 1730.

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