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Neela Kale Answers:
Pope Benedict XVI is from the German state of Bavaria, a region which is predominately Catholic and sometimes described as the “most religious state in Germany.” It is home to the village of Oberammergau, whose famous passion play, produced only every 10 years, draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world. Bavaria is also known for its religious festivals, including Carnival, Easter, Pentecost and Christmas (which is celebrated with elaborate street markets, performances and processions). Although these are Christian holidays, the accompanying celebrations also take on a Bavarian civic and cultural flavor. As a child growing up in a devout Catholic family, Pope Benedict XVI participated in many of these traditions; in a recent speech he spoke warmly and nostalgically of this aspect of his youth, saying of the city of Freising, where he studied in seminary and was ordained, that “as a homeland it lives on in my heart.”