Bidding farewell to Benedict XVI: Thousands pay their respects in St Peter’s

Ahead of his funeral on Thursday, the body of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI lies in state in St Peter's Basilica, where the faithful can pay their final respects and to offer their prayers for the repose of the soul of the late Joseph Ratzinger.

By Christopher Wells

The mortal remains of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI have been transferred to the Basilica of Saint Peter, where they will lay in state for three days to offer the faithful an opportunity for prayer and to pay their final respects to the former Supreme Pontiff.

The Pope Emeritus’ body – resting in front of the Altar of the Confession – is vested in traditional red liturgical garments with a miter, but without the pallium (the latter a symbol of jurisdiction which is normally not used for a retired prelate). A simple Rosary is held in his interlaced fingers.

Long, prayerful lines

On Monday morning, the Pope Emeritus’ remains were translated from the Monastery to the Basilica in a private ceremony.

A long line of the faithful and other well-wishers had already formed early Monday morning before the viewing officially began at 9 am Rome time.

On Monday morning, the Pope Emeritus’ remains were translated from the Monastery’s chapel to the Basilica in a private ceremony, presided over by Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, who holds the title of Archpriest of St Peter’s. The brief ceremony lasted approximately half an hour.

The exposition of the body will continue through Wednesday, with the Basilica open to the faithful from 9 am to 7 pm on Monday, and from 7 am to 7 pm on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Visitation hours

On Thursday, Pope Francis will become the first pope in modern history to preside as Pope at the funeral of his predecessor. The Requiem Mass is set to take place Thursday morning in St Peter’s Square, beginning at 9:30 am Rome time.

Benedict XVI will then be laid to rest, as he requested, in the Grottoes beneath the Basilica, in the tomb where St John Paul II had been buried before his beatification.

In accordance with the wishes of the late Pope Emeritus, the funeral and the accompanying rites and ceremonies will be marked by the same simplicity that characterized the life of this “humble servant in the Lord’s vineyard.”

The Dicastery for Communication, with the support of the Knights of Columbus, is providing media facilities and audio-video links to ensure the worldwide broadcast of the Requiem Mass for the late Benedict XVI.

Updated 2:45 pm

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02 January 2023, 10:19