Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned in 2013, struggled with his decision to take a vow of celibacy, the former pontiff's biographer said Wednesday.
"He really was a very smart guy, an attractive young man, an aesthete who wrote poems and read Hermann Hesse," Peter Seewald told the Christ & Welt edition of Germany's Die Zeit newspaper.
"One of his fellow students told me he had an impact on women, and they had an impact on him. The decision to become celibate was not easy for him," Seewald said in the interview published Wednesday, two days before the release of his latest publication on the ex-pontiff.
Seewald told the newspaper that Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, 89, had not expected to live for a long time after his resignation, but that his resilience meant that he was always able to "pull himself together."
In an interview published by Italian daily La Repubblica last month, Benedict - who now lives a reclusive life in the Vatican Gardens - said it was his "duty" to resign from the papacy because of his declining health and the rigorous demands of papal travel.
A book of interviews with the former pontiff - compiled by Seewald and titled Final Conversations - will be released on September 9. The journalist is known for his collaborations on previous publications with the first pope to retire in just over six centuries.