In keeping with Benedict’s wishes, his funeral will be “simple,” according to the director of the Holy See’s press office, Matteo Bruni. This will be the first occasion in modern times that a pope presides over the funeral of his predecessor.
Members of the faithful lined the square, which can hold nearly 60,000 people, in anticipation of the celebration.
Bruni said the ceremony would be similar to that of a reigning pope, but there would be some modifications. Benedict will be named Pope Emeritus during the funeral, and the language of some prayers will be different since he was not the reigning Pope at his death.
Believers prayed the rosary as Benedict’s coffin left St. Peter’s Basilica at approximately 8:45 a.m. local time (2.45 a.m. ET) on Thursday.
Francis began leading Mass Thursday morning, when he is expected to preach at 10 a.m. local time (4 a.m. ET).
Benedict’s coffin will then be carried through the church and into the Vatican crypt for burial, in the first tomb of John Paul II.
The tomb was evacuated after John Paul II’s body and the remains were moved to a chapel inside the church after he was made a saint.
At the time of burial during the rites, a ribbon will be placed around the coffin with the seals of the Apostolic Chamber, the Papal House and the liturgical ceremonies. The cypress wood coffin is placed inside a welded and sealed zinc coffin, then placed inside a wooden coffin and buried.
The ceremony is expected to end around 11:15 AM local time (5.15 AM ET).
The funeral is scheduled to be attended by dignitaries including Queen Sofia of Spain and German Chancellor Olaf Schultz, along with US Ambassador to the Holy See Joe Donnelly.
Benedict, who was the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign, rather than take office for life, died Dec. 31 in a monastery in Vatican City, according to a statement from the Vatican.
He was elected Pope in April 2005, after the death of John Paul II.
Benedict has been known to be more conservative than his successor, Pope Francis, who has taken 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 clouded the church in recent years. Benedict’s legacy.
The scroll placed inside the coffin of Pope Benedict XVI, which is a biography of his life and recalls some of the most important moments of his tenure, states that he fought “resolutely” against pedophilia.
“He resolutely fought offenses committed by the clergy against minors or infirm persons, and constantly called upon the Church to conversion, prayer, penance, and purification,” the book reads.
His death drew tributes from political and religious leaders, including US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Dalai Lama.
Some 200,000 mourners, including Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and President Sergio Mattarella, paid their respects to the former pope earlier this week during his stay at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Benedict’s public display ended on Wednesday, before an intimate religious ritual during which items including coins and medals from his tenure and a papal coil were placed in his sealed cypress coffin before the funeral.
Francis paid tribute to his predecessor during a meeting at the Vatican on Wednesday.
He said, “I would like us to join those at my side who pay their respects to Benedict XVI, and direct my thoughts to him, a great master of catechism.”
“To help us rediscover the joy of faith and the hope of life in Christ.”
“Alcohol geek. Certified web scholar. Travel aficionado. Subtly charming twitter fanatic.”