ROME — Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI returned to the Vatican on Monday after a four-day visit to his ailing elder brother in their native Germany.
Benedict, a Bavarian native, flew from Munich to Rome aboard an Italian air force plane. He was seen off by Bavaria’s governor, Markus Soeder, who said it was a moment “of happiness and melancholy,” news agency dpa reported.
Benedict returned to his home in the Vatican gardens in the early afternoon, said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni. It was his first trip outside Italy in over seven years.
The 93-year-old retired pontiff arrived in Germany on Thursday to be with his 96-year-old brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger. On Saturday, he greeted old neighbors and prayed at his parents’ grave. He stayed at a seminary during his trip, visiting his brother twice a day.
Benedict has lived at a monastery on the Vatican grounds since shortly after his 2013 retirement, a decision that stunned the world. Elected to the papacy in 2005 to succeed St. John Paul II, the former Joseph Ratzinger was the first pontiff in 600 years to resign the post.
He was succeeded by current Pope Francis.