In keeping with Benedict’s wishes, Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See’s press office, said his funeral would be “simple”. This is the first time in modern times that a pope has presided over the funeral of his predecessor.
Devotees line the square, which can seat about 60,000 people, in anticipation of the ceremony.
Bruni said the ceremony would be similar to that of the reigning pope, but with some changes. Benedict will be named pope emeritus during the funeral, and the language of some prayers will be different because he will no longer be the reigning pope when he dies.
The faithful prayed the rosary as Benedict’s coffin left St. Peter’s Basilica at 8:45 a.m. local time (2:45 a.m. ET) on Thursday.
Francis began leading the Thursday morning mass when he was expected to preach at 10 a.m. local time (4 a.m. ET).
Benedict’s coffin will be carried through the basilica and into the Vatican vault for burial in the first tomb of John Paul II.
The tomb was emptied after John Paul II’s body and remains were moved to a chapel within the basilica after his canonization.
At the time of burial during the rite, the seals of the Apostolic Chamber, Pontifical House and Liturgy are placed around the coffin. A cypress coffin is placed inside a zinc coffin, which is soldered and sealed, then placed inside a wooden coffin and buried.
The ceremony is expected to end at 11:15 a.m. local time (5:15 a.m. ET).
High-profile dignitaries including Spain’s Queen Sofia and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz are expected to attend the funeral, along with US Ambassador to the Holy See Joe Donnelly.
Benedict, the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign, rather than remain in office for life, died on Dec. 31 in a monastery in Vatican City, according to a Vatican statement.
He was elected Pope in April 2005 following the death of John Paul II.
Benedict is known as more conservative than Pope Francis, who has made moves to soften the Vatican’s stance on abortion and homosexuality, as well as making more efforts to tackle the sex-abuse crisis that has engulfed and clouded the church in recent years. Benedict’s legacy.
The scroll placed in the coffin of Pope Benedict XVI, which addresses some of the most important moments of his life and his tenure, reminds us that he “resolutely” fought against pedophilia.
“He fought resolutely against crimes committed by the clergy against children or vulnerable persons, constantly calling the Church to conversion, prayer, penance and purification,” the scroll says.
Political and religious leaders including US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Dalai Lama paid tribute to his death.
Some 200,000 mourners, including Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and President Sergio Mattarella, paid their respects to the former pontiff earlier this week as he lay in state in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Benedict’s public viewing ended Wednesday, during an intimate religious ceremony where items from his tenure, including coins and medals, and a scroll about the pontificate were placed in his sealed Cypriot coffin ahead of his funeral.
Francis paid tribute to his predecessor during a meeting at the Vatican on Wednesday.
“I want us to join those on our side who pay homage to Benedict XVI, and my thoughts as a great master in catechesis,” he said.
“May he help us rediscover the joy of faith in Christ and hope for life.”