One of the Vatican's top leaders, who was Chaplain of His Holiness, Prefect of the Papal Household and Principal Private Secretary of Pope Benedict XVI.
He decided to devote his life to priesthood at the age of 18, after studying theology, and was ordained in 1996.
His elevation to Archbishop of Germany, a procedure usually done upon a pope's death, may have been the first sign Pope Benedict intended to retire.
He was born in Reidern am Wald, a small town in the Black Forest region of Germany, a descendant of seven generations of smiths.
Before serving under Pope Benedict XVI, he was the chaplain to Pope John Paul II.