Thousands of people descended on the Vatican today on the first day of the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday (31st) at the age of 95.
The body of the priest will be on display in St. Peter’s Basilica until Thursday (5th), when the burial will take place. The ceremony will be hosted by Pope Francis.
It is the first time in the history of the Catholic Church that a sitting pope has buried another pope.
Tens of thousands of people, including heads of state and leaders of other faiths, are expected to attend the funeral of the 265th pope of all time.
The ceremony will start at 5:30am (Brasília time) and will be simple as recommended by Benedict XVI. He will be buried in the Vatican Grottoes, where the tombs of the popes are located, the Vatican said in a statement.
Queuing for the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who died on December 31 at the age of 95; the ceremony will take place in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican
Image: ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP
The body of the Pope Emeritus was transferred to St. Peter’s Basilica this Monday morning and will be on display to the public between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. local time. On Tuesday, the public can pay their respects between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Admission is free and you do not need to book an appointment.
Loyal and Italian Prime Minister pay tribute
One of the first visitors was Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who arrived early.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni attends the wake of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican
Image: Vatican via AFP
The line of believers in St. Peter’s Square began to form at dawn.
“I arrived at 6am. It seems normal to me to honor him after everything he has done for the church,” said AnnaMaria, an Italian nun.
The Vatican on Sunday released the first photos of the body of the pope emeritus, who became the first to resign in more than 600 years.
New stage: can Francis resign?
The death of Benedict 16 also opens a new stage for the pontificate of Francis, 86, who has repeatedly confessed that he does not rule out resignation due to physical incapacity an impossible option with two popes at the Vatican, one emeritus and the other in power. Three popes would be unthinkable even for the anticlericals.
For many observers and supporters of the Vatican, Francis is committed to a number of internal reforms and is not considering abdicating for the time being.
He could even set norms for popes emeritus, following the precedent of Benedict XVI, the first resignation in six centuries of history.
*With information from Portal and AFP