Thousands of people pay their respects at the burial of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
The body of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, his head resting on a pair of crimson pillows, lay in St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday as thousands marched to pay their respects to the pontiff who shocked the world when he retired there ten years old.
At dawn, 10 white-gloved papal gentlemen – lay assistants to the pontiffs and papal houses – carried the body on a wooden stretcher covered in fabric down the central aisle of the gigantic basilica to its resting place in front the main altar under the imposing statue of Bernini. bronze canopy.
A Swiss guard saluted as the body was brought in through a side door after Benedict’s remains, placed in a van, were transferred from the chapel to the monastery grounds where the increasingly 95-year-old former pontiff fragile, had died on Saturday. Morning.
His longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, and a handful of consecrated lay people who served in Benedict’s household, followed the van on foot in a silent procession to the basilica.
Just after 9 a.m. (3 a.m. ET), the doors of the basilica opened so that the public, some of whom had waited for hours in the humidity before dawn, could pay their respects to the late pontiff, who retired of the papacy in 2013. becoming the first pope to do so in 600 years.
Loyal and curious, the public quickly went up the central aisle to pass in front of the beer after queuing which snaked around Saint-Pierre square in the middle of the morning.
Filippo Tuccio, 35, came from Venice on an overnight train to view the body of Benedict XVI.
“I wanted to pay tribute to Benoît because he had a key role in my life and my education. I arrived here around 7:30 p.m., having left Venice last night,” Tuccio said.
“When I was young, I took part in World Youth Days,” the pilgrim said, referring to the jamborees of young faithful organized periodically and attended by pontiffs. Tuccio added that he had studied theology and that “his pontificate accompanied me during my university years”.
“He was very important to me: for who I am, my way of thinking, my values. That’s why I wanted to say goodbye today.
Public viewing lasts 10 a.m. on Mondays in St. Peter’s Basilica. Twelve hours of viewing are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday before the funeral on Thursday morning, which will be presided over by Pope Francis, in Saint Peter’s Square.
Security officials expected at least 25,000 people to pass the body on the first day of the visit.
Marina Ferrante, 62, was one of them. La Romaine arrived an hour before the doors opened and became emotional as she explained why she had come.
“I think his main legacy taught us to be free,” she said. “He had a particular intelligence to say what was essential in his faith and that was contagious” for the other faithful. “The thing I thought about when he died was that I would like to be as free as he was.”
While venturing on the fact that the shy, bookworm German clergyman and theologian and the current Argentinian-born pontiff had different temperaments, “I believe there is a continuity between him and Pope Francis and anyone who understands the true relationship between them and Christ can see that,” Ferrante said. .