The faithful in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on January 2, 2023. ALESSANDRA TARANTINO / AP
Thousands of faithful flocked to the Vatican on Monday January 2nd to pay tribute to Pope Benedict XVI. to pay their last respects, who died on Saturday at the age of 95 and whose body is on display under the gold of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome before his funeral on Thursday. . Pope Francis will celebrate the funeral of his predecessor on Thursday from 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter’s Square.
A long line snaked its way across St. Peter’s Square, surrounded by Bernini’s portico, and formed at dawn, in the presence of many media and an important security fixture.
The remains of Joseph Ratzinger rest on a catafalque stretched with golden-yellow cloth, flanked by two Swiss Guards in rich attire standing guard, in front of the basilica’s main altar, which is dominated by a bronze canopy with twisted colonnades. The late pope is dressed in red (the color of papal mourning) and wears a white miter adorned with a gold braid, holding a rosary in his hands.
Read our obituary: Benedict XVI, first ‘pope emeritus’, conservative theologian who became pope against his will, is dead The body of the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, January 2, 2023. ANDREW MEDICHINI/AP
A large candle is lit behind him and many candles are burning in the background. Several cardinals and members of the Curia are present, including the private secretary of the Pope Emeritus, Bishop Georg Gänswein, who accepts handshakes as a sign of sympathy.
Visit of the Italian Prime Minister
The doors of the huge basilica opened to the public at 9am and close at 7pm, only to reopen on Tuesday and Wednesday from 6am to 6pm. Admission is free and requires no ticket reservation. The far-right Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was among the first visitors.
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Completed in 1626, St. Peter’s Basilica, an architectural masterpiece that combines Renaissance and Baroque styles, is one of the most sacred places in Christianity as it houses the tomb of the Apostle Peter, disciple of Christ and first bishop of Rome, whose successors are the popes.
Brilliant theologian and ardent guardian of dogma, Benedict XVI, who resigned in 2013 due to failing strength, died peacefully on Saturday morning at the monastery where he had lived since his resignation in 2013, set in the heart of the Vatican Gardens .
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