Benedict XVI has made it a point to stay out of the limelight. But, for this special occasion, the Pope emeritus agreed to make a public appearance.
He was given two honorary doctorates in Sacred Music. One from the Pontifical John Paul II University in Krakow and from the Krakow Music Academy. Sacred music, said the former Pope, is a way to connect with the divine.
During his speech, Benedict XVI, who is now 88, started off by thanking his predecessor for the role the Polish Pope, played in his life.
"Without John Paul II, my spiritual and theological journey would be unimaginable.”
The degrees were given to Benedict XVI as recognition for his contributions to Sacred Music. Specifically in highlighting the importance of combining beauty, truth and faith in celebrating the Liturgy.
CARD. STANISLAW DZIWISZ
Papal Secretary of John Paul II
"Thank your Holiness, for your great pontifical service. For your vast doctrinal heritage and for the benevolence you've always showed.”
The ceremony took place in the Vatican's summer house in Castel Gandolfo, where Benedict XVI is enjoying a two week vacation away from Rome's intense heat.
Rectors of both institutions were present, as Benedict XVI received both honors.
"John Paul II was a living example of this. He showed us how the joy of great Sacred music, goes hand in hand with the popular participation of the Sacred Liturgy.”
Since retiring from the papacy back in 2013, Benedict XVI has led a life of prayer and meditation in the Vatican. Among his personal hobbies are reading and of course, playing the piano.