The fourth year of Pope Benedict’s papacy was certainly an eventful one, spiced with unofficial visits and even a trip to the hospital. Here’s a short summary of Vatican events:

January: The Pope lifts the excommunication of four Society of St. Pius X bishops ordained against papal orders in 1988 by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

March: The Holy Father announces the Year for Priests (June 19, 2009-June 11, 2010).

March: He makes an apostolic trip to Cameroon and Angola.

April: The Pope receives Prince of Wales Charles Windsor and his wife in audience.

April: Benedict traveled to the Italian region of Abruzzo to visit people affected by the earthquake (pictured right).

May: The Holy Father makes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

June: The Pope presides at first vespers in the basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, officially marking the closure of the Year of St. Paul.

July: Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), Pope Benedict’s new encyclical, is released.

July: He receives President Barack Obama and his wife in audience.

July: The Holy Father breaks his wrist following a fall while on vacation in Les Combes. He sports a cast for a short time (pictured left).

September: Pope Benedict visits the Czech Republic.

October: Historic Synod on Africa is held.

October: Apostolic constitution to allow disaffected Anglicans and Episcopalians to enter communion with the Holy See released.

November: Full diplomatic relations with Russia established.