Sunday in Monaco
Its most impromptu moment, however, came on the balcony of Benedict XVI's onetime home, the Archbishop's Residence in Munich. Emerging into the bright sunshine after lunch, the Pope held two microphones so he could greet the crowd which packed the street below, leaning over the railing to applaud the poppy serenandes of a band of musicians in native dress playing Bavarian music.
Always "Fluffy" in his public demeanor regardless of the backdrop, the Pope has clearly taken it up a notch and is showing himself elated to be home, a feeling particularly evidenced by his launching into extemporaneous statements at will. While Reuters' photo captions read that "the shy 79-year-old has been smiling as broadly as a little boy on Christmas morning" since his arrival yesterday afternoon, after Cardinal Frederich Wetter's greeting at this morning's Mass, Benedict rose to say that "While I greeted you liturgically with 'Peace be with you,' I also wish to greet you with 'Gruss Gott' ['God is good']."
The traditional Bavarian salute earned ecstatic cheers from the crowd, and the pontiff spoke off-the-cuff for about another minute before entering into the penitential rite.
In the evening, Benedict returned to the church where he was ordained a bishop -- Munich's mammoth Frauenkirche Cathedral, said to seat 20,000 -- where he presided over Vespers. A bronze bas-relief of the Bavarian Pope now stands at its entrance.
While this morning's chief concelebrants were the resident German cardinals alongside Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who retires as Secretary of State on Friday, the papal homecoming has also attracted far-flung Eminences, including Cardinals Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo and Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow.
Still out of camera range, however -- at least, so far -- is Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, the "Punk Princess" turned art magnate, savior of the Regnsburg dynasty, conservative social commentator, and Ratzinger friend. Gloria may have lost her quest to have the Pope stay at the millennium-old TNT compound, Schloss St Emmeram, but she'll likely figure into the Regensburg leg of the tour, which begins tomorrow night when the pontiff and entourage arrive there from their brief stop at Benedict's birthplace of Marktl am Inn.
PHOTO 1: Arturo Mari/L'Osservatore Romano
PHOTO 2: AP Pool/Maurizio Brambatti
PHOTO 3: Reuters Pool/Maurizio Brambatti