Former Pope Benedict XVI rests in St. Peter’s Basilica ahead of funeral
The beheading of former Pope Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday at the age of 95, began Monday in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican ahead of his funeral later this week.
Benedict XVI, who was the first pontiff in nearly 600 years to step down from his post, rather than hold office for life, died Dec. 31 at a monastery in Vatican City, according to a Vatican statement.
He was elected pope in April 2005, after the death of John Paul II.
The former pope’s body was moved from the monastery to St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday morning, where it was laid out for the faithful to bid farewell, the Vatican said.
His funeral will be held Thursday at 9:30 a.m. local time (3:30 a.m. ET) in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, according to the director of the Holy See’s press office, Matteo Bruni. The funeral will be conducted by Pope Francis. In accordance with Benedict XVI’s wishes, his funeral will be “simple”, Bruni said.
Francis paid homage to his predecessor by leading the Angelus prayer on Sunday.
“In particular, this greeting is to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who passed away yesterday morning. We salute him as a faithful servant of the gospel,” he said.
Benedict was known to be more conservative than his successor, Pope Francis, who took steps to soften the Vatican’s stance on abortion and homosexuality, as well as to do more to address the sexual abuse crisis that has engulfed the church in recent years and clouded Benedict’s legacy.
He stunned Catholic devotees and religious experts around the world in 2013 when he announced his intention to step down as pope, citing his “advanced age”.
In his farewell address, the outgoing pope vowed to remain ‘hidden’ from the world, but he continued to speak out on religious issues in the years since his retirement, contributing to tensions within the Church Catholic.
His death prompted tributes from political and religious leaders, including US President Joe Biden, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and the Dalai Lama.