PENTLING, Germany (CNS) -- Barriers holding back crowds of well-wishers in front of Pope Benedict XVI's Pentling home opened upon orders given from inside the pope's house.
Suddenly, everyone was allowed on the street just outside the pope's house, and only minutes later Pope Benedict emerged, thanking the crowd for coming and waiting for him Sept. 13.
"May God bless you all," he said, adding the Bavarian phrase "Vergelt's Gott," which means "May God repay you for your kindness."
"I want to thank you for your good neighborhood spirit; in our thoughts we will always remain connected," he said.
Then he walked out among the crowd, separated from the people only by a thin plastic band.
A police officer told Catholic News Service, "In Pentling, nobody is going to harm him."We do what he asks us to do, and this is what was being asked for, that his people could get really close to him," said the police officer.
Pope Benedict also met privately with his immediate neighbors.
Farsad Samitt, a pharmacist, and his wife, Anita Penzenstadler, have been living next door to Pope Benedict's house for 16 years. Penzenstadler said Pope Benedict took a lot of time to speak with them and asked about their baby."
Our daughter, Sara, is now 11 months old, and he wanted to meet her. He was ever so happy when I showed her to him, congratulated us on our wonderful child and blessed her," she told CNS.
"Then he took my hands into his and just looked at me intently," she said. "It was as though he did not look at me, he looked right through me and into my heart. ... He has really blessed me, and the faith that went forth from his kind eyes was enormous."
Another neighbor, Therese Hofbauer, said when the pope walked into his garden he profusely thanked her and her husband, Rupert, for how well they kept it.
The Hofbauers gave the pope honey from bees that live in his garden.
"The fountain was decorated with sunflowers, and at the side stood the jars with honey from his own bees and from his own garden," said Therese Hofbauer. "He saw that little surprise gift we had prepared for him and was so happy about it. When he left, he took it with him.
"She said when she spoke with Pope Benedict she asked him to pray for a friend who was there on a stretcher; when she told the pope how sick her friend was, "he immediately went up to her, and he blessed her."
Carmelite Sister Emmanuel Hofbauer of St. Joseph Carmelite Monastery in Shoreline, Wash., a German-born nun who had traveled to Pentling especially to meet Pope Benedict and who had been staying with the Hofbauers at their home, said she was overjoyed at seeing the pope. Sister Emmanuel is not related to the pope's neighbors.
Sister Emmanuel, who for two decades has corresponded with the pope and his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, said, "When he saw me, he came up and said, 'Ah, the sister is here to visit, welcome.'"Sister Emmanuel told CNS that she spoke to Msgr. Ratzinger after Pope Benedict left.
"They (the pope and his brother) spent hours together in the house, just the two of them," she said. "He (Msgr. Ratzinger) was so happy that it had worked out for them to walk around their house and in the garden together as they had always done in the past. He was just so full of joy, and my heart really went out to him."
When I saw them walking around the garden, I could see the joy on both their faces; they were really, really happy," she said.
"If this had been a movie, this would have been the part where I would have broken out in tears, at the sight of these two old brothers being reunited and walking around the house. It was an immensely moving moment that I cannot put into words," added Sister Emmanuel.