Pope: May we all unite in gratitude for this faithful servant of Gospel

At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis recalls the late Benedict XVI, after visiting his predecessor's remains shortly after his death on Saturday at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery to pray.

By Salvatore Cernuzio and Tiziana Campisi

"The beginning of the new year is entrusted to Mary Most Holy, whom we celebrate today as Mother of God. At this time, let us invoke her intercession, especially for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who left this world yesterday morning. Let us all join together, with one heart and one soul, in thanking God for the gift of this faithful servant of the Gospel and of the Church."

Pope Francis offered these words of affection and sorrow for the death of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, but also his gratitude for one whom, as in yesterday evening's Te Deum, he described as "a gift for the Church and the world". Benedict, "the good grandfather," the "father" and "brother", as he had called him during these years of his pontificate, died yesterday morning at the age of 95.

The Vatican's Press Office released images of the body of the Pope emeritus lying in repose in the chapel of the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, located in the Vatican Gardens a few steps away from the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, which Benedict XVI had chosen as his home after stepping down from the Petrine ministry in 2013. 

Pope Francis' visit yesterday to Mater Ecclesiae Monastery

On Saturday morning, Pope Francis went to the Monastery a few minutes after 9.34 am, the hour of Benedict XVI's death, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, confirmed today. He explained that, immediately after being informed by the special secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the Pope went to the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery by car at around 10 am. He had also made a visit there last Wednesday, 28 December, immediately after speaking of the Pope Emeritus' worsening health situation, asking for "a special prayer" for him.

The body of the Pope Emeritus in the Mater Ecclesiae chapel
The body of the Pope Emeritus in the Mater Ecclesiae chapel

The body lying in repose in the Monastery Chapel 

As recalled by those who assisted him in his final moments, Benedict died "with great serenity. Pope Francis was the first to visit Benedict XVI after. The Pope prayed beside the body, which is now lying in repose in the chapel of the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery next to a large crucifix, a nativity scene, and a Christmas tree. The remains of the Pope Emeritus are vested in red liturgical vestments with a miter, but without the pallium. 

Meanwhile, private visits by cardinals and people closely connected to the Pope Emeritus started today. Beginning at 9 am on Monday and for three days until the funeral on Thursday, 5 January, the body will lay in state in St Peter's Basilica for veneration by the faithful. Matteo Bruni also reported that there will be a private rite tomorrow morning for the transfer of the body of the Pope Emeritus to the church with a passage through the Basilica's Door of Prayer. Video footage will be broadcast at the end of the rite. The faithful will be able to pay their respects starting from 9 am.

Applause in St. Peter's Square

Pope Francis remembered his predecessor at the New Year's Day Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, entrusting him to the intercession of the Virgin Mary. At the Angelus, where close to 40,000 faithful and visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square, he asked them to pray, united, for Benedict XVI's soul. These words were followed by applause from those present in the Square, where flags from Germany, the birthplace of the Pope Emeritus, could be seen, as well as some banners bearing the name "Benedict XVI."


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01 January 2023, 15:38