Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Papal Christmas

H/T to Amy:

But for the Pope's home-style Christmas at the Vatican, everything is ready. Munich banker Thaddaeus Kuehnel has seen to it, as he has done for 25 years for his friend, then-Cardinal Ratzinger.

For 25 years, he has faithfully delivered to Rome every Christmastime everything that brings joy to a Bavarian in the holiday season: sausage,. Advent wreaths, ham, baked goodies, Kloster beer.

Thanks to Kuehnel's last trip over the Brenner Pass,the Christmas room in the Papal apartments now looks like that of the Schulzes or the Hubers anywhere in Germany.

There are two Christmas trees in the Pope's living room. Until a few days ago, they were growing in the Bavarian woods on the property of a farming family in Waldingen. Then Kuehnel came, the treees were chosen and chopped, and he strapped both trees securely to his car roof. They would not be unbound again until Kuehnel reached the courtyard of the Apostolic palace.

From that time, the trees became the responsibility of Carmela, Emanuela, Loredana and Christina, the Pope's lay nun housekeepers. They not only decorated the trees, but also have to prepare the main dish for Christmas dinner from a deer shot by a Swabian hunter, Gisbert Sattler, earlier this week.

Kuehnel also brought the Pope a variety of cookies made by Bavarian cloistered nuns - vanilla Kipferl, anise cookies, cinnamon stars, jam-filled cookies, and Stollen (a Christmas cake).

"The Holy Father has a weakness for sweet things," says Sister Irma.

The Pope's brother, Georg, flies to Rome on December 28, but even on Christmas Eve, the Pope will be wallowing in memories of Christmas past, as he loves to do, according to those who have known him in Rome for long.

In the Christmas room of the Apostolic Palace, he has put up the creche that has been with him since was a professor in Regensburg.

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