The Pope’s Favorite Animal

What is the Pope’s favorite animal? While I am not aware of a direct quote, we can deduce it from a homily last week, which repeats an insight at the end of his autobiography. It’s also own his Coat of Arms, as you can see: a bear. As you can read in detail in the Homily, the Pope explains the significance of the bear in the story of St. Corbinian, a French monk sent by the Pope to evangelize Bavaria, and who founded the Diocese where Benedict XVI was first Bishop. The story goes that on his way, a bear killed St. Corbinian’s horse, but St. Corbinian tamed the animal, latched his packs on the bear and freed him after delivering his belongings in Munich. Following St. Augustine, Pope Benedict XVI saw in this a metaphor for his own life, and St. Corbinian’s, men who wanted to dedicate themselves to prayer and the intellectual life (St. Corbinian was a monk, Ratzinger an intellectual) but the Lord had other plans for them: to carry the Church¬†on their shoulders. An article in L’Osservatore Romano explains:

Ratzinger, in the tracks of his beloved Augustine, explained that this burden – the episcopal responsibility of anyone who “pulls God’s cart in this world” – was imposed upon Corbinian and upon the African Bishop, attracted by both contemplation and study.
“But in this very way I am close to you, I serve you, you hold me in your hand”, the Cardinal, now in Rome, concluded. In entrusting himself to the one Lord, as Benedict XVI does every day, who is as fond of his
bear as ever.

However, as we can see below, there may be otehr canidadates for the Pope’s favorite animal:


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