Funeral of Benedict XVI Expected Kings and Heads of State

Funeral of Benedict XVI Expected Kings and Heads of State

03/01/2023 12:14 (act. 03/01/2023 12:14)

Kings and heads of state expected at the funeral.

Kings and heads of state expected at the funeral. ©APA/AP/Canva

Kings, nobles, heads of state and clergy from around the world will attend Benedict XVI’s funeral. scheduled for Thursday at the Vatican, which will be celebrated by the current Pope Francis.

Also on the second day of Benedict XVI’s farewell. A long line of people formed outside the entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on Tuesday to pay their last respects to the former head of the Catholic Church. Many pilgrims came from different parts of Italy and different countries. The retired Pope is in bed until Wednesday. The ex-pope’s farewell is accompanied by a large presence of security.

Federal President of Germany

So far, the Italian delegation, headed by President Sergio Mattarella, and the German delegation have officially announced their participation.

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder come from Germany, according to the Vatican. Rumor has it that King Philippe of Belgium and the former Queen Sofia of Spain will also attend the funeral, accompanied by a group of Spanish prelates led by Cardinal Chief of the Episcopate Juan José Omella.

Representative of the Church in Austria

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda are also expected, as well as a delegation from the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople. As official representatives of the Church in Austria, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn and the Archbishop of Salzburg, Franz Lackner, will participate in the funeral ceremonies as president of the Episcopal Conference.

Benedict XVI’s funeral is considered unprecedented in Church history. For the first time, a pope celebrates the mourning ceremony for a predecessor. Protocol experts are still working on the rite’s liturgy, and Francis will have the final say. The Dean of the College of Cardinals, Giovanni Battista Re, or the Holy See’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, will likely stand next to the pope, who will likely remain seated during the funeral ceremony because of his knee problems.

White silk scarf?

Unlike the funeral of a sitting pope, the nine-day period of mourning, which bears the Latin name “Novemdiales”, is omitted at Benedict’s funeral. Normally, after the death of a pope, cardinals must also elect his successor. That does not apply to the case of Benedict XVI, who on February 11, 2013, became the first pope in more than six centuries to resign, making room for his successor, Francis. It remains unclear whether the traditional white silk cloth is placed over the deceased’s face when closing the coffin, as is customary at papal funerals.

According to Vatican rules, a pope must be buried four to six days after his death. The retired pope wanted a burial in the former tomb of his predecessor, John Paul II, in St. Peter’s Basilica. After John Paul II’s beatification in 2011, his body was reburied in a chapel in the aisle of St. Peter’s Basilica.

65,000 people made the pilgrimage

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the body of Joseph Ratzinger, dressed in the red miter and liturgical mantle and holding a rosary, will be exposed to the faithful’s farewell. To ensure the safety of pilgrims, more than 1,000 police have been on duty since Monday. The altar from which Pope Francis will celebrate the rite has already been set up in St. Peter’s Square. Likewise, chairs were installed for the faithful and several screens to allow them to follow the ceremony.

On Monday alone, around 65,000 people made the pilgrimage to Benedict’s body by 7 pm, twice as many as initially expected. Up to 70,000 people are expected at the funeral on Thursday, according to Rome. The pope emeritus died on Saturday, aged 95, at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, where he had lived since he resigned in February 2013.