Born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI succeeded Pope John Paul II as head of the Catholic Church in Vatican City.
The church elected Benedict to the papacy in 2005, and Benedict served until 2013. He succeeded Pope John Paul II and was the 265th person to take on the role.
Pope Benedict XVI blesses pilgrims, for the last time as head of the Catholic Church, from the window of Castel Gandolfo, where he started his retirement on Feb. 28, 2013, in Rome, Italy.
He became a priest in 1951 in Germany, and he held several prominent leadership roles in the church, including the dean of the College of Cardinals, a governing body within the Catholic Church that, among other things, is responsible for electing the pope.
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