The funeral of former Pope Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday at the age of 95, began on Thursday with a traditional ceremony led by Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Square.
According to Matteo Bruni, director of the press office of the Holy See, according to Benedict’s wishes, his funeral will be “simple”. It will be the first time in modern times that a pope has presided over the funeral of his predecessor.
The faithful lined the square, which can hold about 60,000 people, in anticipation of the ceremony.
The ceremony will be similar to that of a reigning pope, but with some changes, Bruni said. Benedict will be called pope emeritus at the funeral, and some of the prayers will have different language because he was not the reigning pope when he died.
The faithful prayed the rosary when Benedict’s coffin left St. Peter’s Basilica around 8.45 am. local time (2:45 a.m. ET) on Thursday.
Francis began leading mass on Thursday morning, when he is scheduled to deliver a homily at 10 a.m. local time (4 a.m. ET).
Benedict’s coffin will then be carried through the basilica and into the Vatican crypt, where it will be buried in the first tomb of John Paul II.
The tomb was vacated after John Paul II’s remains were moved to a chapel inside the basilica following his canonization.
During the funeral service, a belt with the seals of the apostolic palace, the pontiff’s house and the liturgical feasts will be placed around the coffin. The cypress casket will be placed in a zinc casket, which is soldered and sealed, and then placed in a wooden casket for burial.
The ceremony should end around 11.15am. local time (5:15 a.m. ET).
Dignitaries including Queen Sofia of Spain and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz are set to attend the funeral alongside US Ambassador to the Holy See Joe Donelly.
Benedict, who was the first pontiff in nearly 600 years to resign rather than serve for life, died on Dec. 31 in a Vatican City monastery, according to a Vatican statement.
He was elected Pope in 2005. in April, after the death of John Paul II.
Benedict was known to be more conservative than his successor, Pope Francis, who took steps to soften the Vatican’s stance on abortion and homosexuality, as well as doing more to deal with the sexual abuse crisis that has engulfed and darkened the church in recent years. Benedict’s legacy.
A scroll placed in the coffin of Pope Benedict XVI, which is a biography of his life and commemorates some of the most important moments of his tenure, reminds us that he fought “firmly” against pedophilia.
“He firmly fought against clerical crimes against minors or vulnerable persons, constantly calling on the Church for conversion, prayer, repentance and purification,” the scroll reads.
His death prompted tributes to political and religious leaders, including US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Dalai Lama.
About 200,000 mourners, including Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and President Sergio Mattarella, paid their respects to the former pontiff earlier this week as he lay in state at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Benedict’s public viewing ended on Wednesday before an intimate religious service in which items, including coins and medals minted during his tenure and a scroll on the pontificate, were placed in his sealed cypress coffin before his funeral.
Francis paid tribute to his predecessor during an audience at the Vatican on Wednesday.
“I would like us to join those around us who pay our respects to Benedict XVI and turn our thoughts to him, the great master of catechesis,” he said.
“May it help us to rediscover in Christ the joy of faith and the hope of living.”