This is part of our "True Story Told In Pictures" feature, which is exactly what it sounds like. The story below was pieced together from a series of articles.
This is Pope Benedict XVI. Ever since he was a little boy, he loved playing the piano. Mozart, in particular, was his jam.
In 2006, the Pope let reporters into his summer home. They flashed their cameras and rolled their tape, and eventually the Pope's Shubert made it to YouTube.
What with his musical inclinations, people thought for sure they had a good thing coming in 2009 when the Pope announced he'd made a Christmas album. But a reviewer for The Guardian called Alma Mater "pseudo-spiritual," "bastardised" and "syrupy." For the first time, the world didn't applaud the Pope's musical taste.
Time kept on slipping. Soon it was 2012 and there was not a whisper of Alma Mater or any other musical embarrassment. Space cleared for a new story. The Pope went to Mexico. With him, he brought an item he'd previously only used in private, in the Vatican gardens. Yes, the Pope, God's representative on earth, was using a cane.
People fretted. Did this mean the Pope was ill? Should he even be traveling anymore? How deathly was the disease? The Vatican told everyone to simmer down. If the Pope likes using a cane now, it's only because he's 84, a representative said. Any 84-year-old with sense knows a cane is a useful thing. Get over it. Move on. Listen to some Mozart or the Pope's 2009 Christmas album and just chill, okay? Take a page from the Pope.
Soon, the Pope proved beyond a doubt he was his old self. He attended his favorite thing: a concert at the Vatican. Riccardo Muti, an Italian conductor with long black hair, led the players in sacred music by Vivaldi and Verdi. Reporters and cameramen were in attendance, holy men, and of course, the Pope, smack in the center of the main aisle, enraptured.
The greatest testament to the Pope's joy came from one eagle-eyed reporter, who noted a small miracle at the concert's end. Here's how he put it: "Benedict, 85, has recently used a cane in public but on Friday walked steadily with no cane in sight."
No cane in sight!
Last month, the Pope went further. For the first time since becoming Pope, he decided to leave Vatican City for a concert. Outside, out there, he'd hear music the way non-popes do, every day. The occasion would take place at La Scala, Italy's most celebrated opera house.
As the date grew closer, its significance dimmed. A scandal, entirely separate, had begun to unfold. The Pope's butler was suspected of stealing confidential papers. Unfortunately for the butler, he looks like this:
If he didn't steal the papers, he sure looks like he stole at least a cookie or something. Here he is again, holding a confidential paper-sized briefcase:
But the Pope was not deterred! Last week, he peaced out of Vatican City. To La Scala, he went, and the music.
And what did he find? Not a crowd of critics angry at the Vatican for allowing another scandal to bloom. No, instead he got Beethoven's 9th, and a plaza full of fans.
All photos courtesy the Associated Press.
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