Thousands mourn the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI this week

Tens of thousands of people flocked to pay their respects to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, whose body lay in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on Monday.

Benedict, the first pope in nearly 600 years to step down as head of the Catholic Church, died on Saturday. He was 95 years old.

Benedict’s death followed reports last week that his health had failed.

Security officials had said at least 25,000 people would pay their respects on Monday. But by mid-afternoon, Vatican police estimated that around 40,000 people had filed near the body of Benedict XVI, his head resting on a pair of crimson pillows.

Here’s what to expect this week:

‘THE POPE IS GONE’:Catholics gather at the Vatican to mourn the death of Pope Benedict XVI

How long will Benoît remain in state?

Just after 9 a.m. local time on Monday, the doors of the basilica opened for the public to pay their respects to the late pontiff, his body clad in a miter, a bishop’s visored headgear and with a red coat.

People were hurrying up the central aisle to pass the beer hall with its draped fabric after waiting in a mid-morning line that snaked around St. Peter’s Square.

An organ and choir rendition of “Kyrie Eleison” (“Lord, have mercy” in ancient Greek) in the background, ushers moved well-wishers along the central aisle of the basilica toward the body.

The viewing was also set for Tuesday and Wednesday.

ARE YOU PLANNING TO TRAVEL TO ROME? What to know about traveling for the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI

Who attended the viewing?

Notables who attended the viewing included Cardinal Walter Kasper, as did Benedict, a German theologian. Kasper served as head of the Vatican’s Christian Unity Office during Benedict XVI’s papacy.

Benedict left a “significant mark” on theology and spirituality but also on the history of the papacy with his courage to stand down, Kasper told The Associated Press. Benedict cited age and declining health when he stepped down in 2013.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the far-right leader who has professed her admiration for Benedict XVI’s conservative leanings, visited the basilica to pay his respects. Italian President Sergio Mattarella was also present.

When is Benoît’s funeral?

Benedict XVI’s funeral will be led by Pope Francis – an unprecedented opportunity for a current pope to celebrate the funeral mass of a former pope – and will take place on Thursday in St. Peter’s Square.

The funeral will be marked by simplicity in accordance with Benedict XVI’s wishes, the Vatican has said.

THE VATICAN FACES AN UNPRECEDENTED CHALLENGE:How to Arrange a Funeral for Pope Emeritus Benedict

Where will Benedict be buried?

Benedict’s tomb will be in the grotto crypt beneath St. Peter’s Basilica which was last used by St. John Paul II in accordance with Benedict’s wishes, the Vatican said.

The saint’s body was moved upstairs to the main basilica ahead of his beatification in 2011, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

THOSE WE LOST IN 2022:USA TODAY’s annual look at the memorable numbers we lost in 2022

How long did Benoît serve?

Joseph Ratzinger was born in Germany in 1927 and became pope in 2005.

As a general rule, popes serve until death. Benedict is the first pope since the 1400s to leave office alive when he stepped down in 2013.

Upon retirement, Benedict left the Vatican for several months while the cardinals selected and installed Francis. Benedict then returned to the Vatican, no longer being pope or cardinal. Instead, he asked to be known as Father Benedict and lived out his life in the monastery on Vatican grounds.

Dig deeper

Pope Emeritus Benedict’s health deteriorates

Pope Francis has written a resignation letter in case his own health declines

Pope Francis increased the number of cardinals who would choose his successor

Contributor: The Associated Press; Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY

USA Today

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button