Even when he was still Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II was still the pontiff, media had paint a very stiff portrait of the German church official. He was called God's Rotweiller, a not-so-flattering comparison because of the shift in the use of that breed of dog from herding livestock to serving as K-9s.
The harsh glare of media lights continued into his eight-year reign and worsened with his mid-February 2013 announcement of his retirement which shocked the Catholic world.
It did not help soften his image that he was a German and was conscripted in Hitler's army when he turned 14.
Following his official retirement on Feb 28, the ex-pontiff, now referred to as Pope Emeritus, appears to have more time to enjoy the simpler things in life such as appreciating God's creation
or using his free hours to return to one of his first loves, which are hiking
and playing the piano.
Besides being a clergyman, the pope used to be a piano-playing professor at the University of Bonn and counts Mozart and Beethoven as his favourite composers.
There are no reports yet if the former pope had resumed playing the piano since he gave up the title, the fisherman's ring and four pairs of red papal shoes. Media accounts said he spent his first day praying the rosary, sleeping, watching the news in Italian and talking with Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the prefect of the papal household and his personal secretary.
The pope is probably still adjusting to his less hectic schedule which often started from 5 a.m. and ended at 11 p.m. or sometimes past midnight. Eight years of that grueling schedule, plus the weight of problems such as the sex abuse scandals involving priests and even cardinals, must have caught up on the octogenarian who cited failure to perform his shepherd duties as the main reason why he quit.
These duties include meeting with heads of states, diplomats and religious leaders, liturgy, writing epistles and regular encounters with Vatican visitors as well as occasional travels.
One thing that caused the quite negative image of then Pope Benedict XVI was that he followed the more than two decades reign of the very charismatic and well-love Pope John Paul II, who is definitely an act hard to follow and difficult-to-fill his red shoes.
As a result, a CBS poll released on Tuesday said that while 63 per cent of Catholics felt that Pope John Paul II helped the Church up to the time of his death in April 2005, only 26 per cent think the same of the Pope Emeritus.
As the 115 cardinals elect the new pope in a conclave at a date to be determined, the incoming pontiff would also have a tough act to follow since the princes of the church have added a pledge to remain pope until death and zero tolerance to sex abuse as the new job requirements for the leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics around the world.
Given these qualifications, it is not surprising that many papabilis are not too keen on wearing the red shoes, even if it was made by Prada.