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Former Pope Benedict XVI’ s Body Lay In State In St. Peter’s Basilica

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Former Pope Benedict XVI’s Body Lay In State In St. Peter’s Basilica

(CTN NEWS) – VATICAN CITY – In St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s body lay in state with his head resting on two red pillows as throngs of mourners paid their respects to the pontiff who surprised the world by resigning ten years ago.

After being brought to the basilica, the body was carried by ten white-gloved Papal Gentlemen — lay helpers to the pontiffs and papal households — to its final resting place in front of the main altar beneath Bernini’s enormous bronze canopy.

The 95-year-old former pontiff passed away on Saturday morning, and his body was taken from the chapel on the monastery grounds and deposited in a van.

A Swiss Guard saluted as the body was brought in through a side entrance.

In this image released on Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, by the Vatican Media news service, the body of late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is carried from the chapel of the monastery ‘Mater Ecclesiae’ at The Vatican where he mostly lived after retiring on Feb. 28, 2013, (Vatican Media via AP)

A few consecrated laywomen who worked in Benedict’s household and his longstanding secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, followed the van on foot for a few hundred meters in a quiet procession to the basilica. Some of the women reached out to respectfully touch the body.

Prayers were said, the basilica’s archpriest, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, sprinkled holy water over the body, and a little cloud of incense was released close to the bier before the rank-and-file faithful were permitted inside the basilica.

Benedict had his hands together and a rosary wrapped around his fingers.

The body of late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI laids out in state as father Georg Gaenswein stands on the right inside St. Peter’s Basilica at The Vatican, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. Benedict XVI, the German theologian who will be remembered as the first pope in 600 years to resign, has died, the Vatican announced Saturday. He was 95. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

To allow the public to pay their respects to the late pontiff, who retired from the papacy in 2013 to become the first pope to do so in 600 years, the basilica doors were swung open just after 9 a.m. (0800 GMT).

Some people had waited for hours in the gloom before dawn.

After waiting in a line wrapped around St. Peter’s Square by mid-morning, the faithful and curious walked swiftly up the middle aisle to pass past the bier with its fabric hanging.

Benedict’s torso was covered in a red cloak, a miter, and a bishop’s peaked hat.

The 35-year-old Filippo Tuccio claimed to have taken an overnight train from Venice to see Benedict’s body.

“Because he was crucial to my life and education, I decided to honor Him. After leaving Venice yesterday night, I arrived at 7:30,” Tuccio said.

Nuns wait in a line to enter Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican where late Pope Benedict 16 is being laid in state at The Vatican, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. Benedict XVI, the German theologian who will be remembered as the first pope in 600 years to resign, has died, the Vatican announced Saturday. He was 95. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

The pilgrim mentioned the periodic gatherings of young believers that pontiffs attended by saying, “When I was young, I participated in World Youth Days.”

Tuccio said, “His papacy followed me during my academic years.” He had studied theology.

He played a significant role in shaping who I am, how I think, and what I value. I wanted to say farewell today for this reason.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, another German theologian like Benedict attended the basilica viewing. During Benedict’s pontificate, Kasper was the director of the Vatican’s ministry for Christian unity.

Benedict’s heroism in resigning left an “important impact” on theology and spirituality as well as the pope’s history, according to Kasper, who spoke to The Associated Press.

Because the pope recognized that he was no longer capable of handling the demands of the office, Kasper claimed that his resignation was not a show of weakness but rather of power and magnificence.

People look at the body of late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI laid out in state inside St. Peter’s Basilica at The Vatican, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. Benedict XVI, the German theologian who will be remembered as the first pope in 600 years to resign, has died, the Vatican announced Saturday. He was 95. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

The choice to retire provided “a more human perspective of the papacy: that the pope is a man and is dependent on his physical and mental strengths,” continued Kasper, one of the cardinals who helped elect Benedict to the office of pope in 2005.

On Monday, there will be a 10-hour public viewing in St. Peter’s Basilica. Before the funeral on Thursday morning, which Pope Francis will officiate, there will be a 12-hour visitation on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In keeping with Benedict’s wishes, the funeral would be understated, and the Vatican stated while announcing his passing on Saturday.

The Vatican confirmed the burial arrangements on Monday.

According to the pope’s intentions, Benedict will be buried in the crypt of the grotto beneath the basilica, which St. John Paul II last occupied before the latter’s body was taken there for his 2011 beatification.

The body of late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI laid out in state inside St. Peter’s Basilica at The Vatican, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. Benedict XVI, the German theologian who will be remembered as the first pope in 600 years to resign, has died, the Vatican announced Saturday. He was 95. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

On the first day of viewing, security officials predicted that at least 25,000 individuals would pass by the body. After roughly four hours, 10,000 people had reportedly seen Benedict’s body, according to Italian state television.

Viewers walked through the standard security procedures required of visitors entering the basilica at two sides of the plaza, including going through metal detectors and having their luggage scanned by an X-ray machine.

62-year-old Marina Ferrante was one of them. The Roman arrived an hour before the doors were opened, and she became tearful when she spoke of her motivation for coming.

Postcards of Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis and Pope John Paul II are sold at a kiosk while the body of late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI laid out in state inside St. Peter’s Basilica at The Vatican, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

She stated, “I think his greatest legacy was showing us how to be free. For other believers, “he had a distinct intelligence in saying what was fundamental in his faith and that was contagious.” “When he passed away, I felt that I wished I could be as liberated as he was.”

“I believe there’s a continuity between him and Pope Francis, and anyone who understands the actual relationship between them and Christ can see that,”

Ferrante added, speculating that the current Argentine-born pontiff and the retiring, bookish German churchman and theologian had distinct temperaments.

An American living in Rome said seeing the body was “a fantastic experience.” Mountain Butorac, 47, an Atlanta native, claimed to have arrived 90 minutes before the morning opening and left the basilica 30 minutes later.

People line up to enter Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican where late Pope Benedict 16 is being laid in state at The Vatican, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. Benedict XVI, the German theologian who will be remembered as the first pope in 600 years to resign, has died, the Vatican announced Saturday. He was 95.(AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

When Joseph Ratzinger was a cardinal, elected pope, and even after he retired, Butorac declared, “I liked Benedict. I believe he served as a sort of human grandfather while residing at the Vatican.

When Benedict was ill, he traveled to the Vatican to pray for him, saying, “I wanted to be here today to say farewell. I believe that he and Francis had a strong bond and showed concern for one another.

Ushers moved well-wishers along at a steady pace down the basilica’s center aisle while an organ and choir softly played “Kyrie Eleison,” which is translated as “Lord, have mercy” in ancient Greek.

They then gently nudged them, saying “avanti” (keep going) in Italian to maintain the pace. A crimson rose was left behind.

In this image released on Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, by the Vatican Media news service, Bishop George Gaenswein, center, and close entourage pray in front of the body of late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI lying out in state in the chapel of the monastery ‘Mater Ecclesiae’ where he mostly lived after retiring on Feb. 28, 2013.(Vatican Media via AP)

A few dignitaries were given a chance to express their condolences before the general audience arrived, including Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, a far-right member who has previously expressed appreciation for Benedict’s conservatism.

Sergio Mattarella, the president of Italy, also visited the body. Since the pope emeritus was no longer the head of state, the Vatican has stated that only two official delegations from countries — Italy and Benedict’s native Germany — were formally invited to the funeral.

One of the mourners who arrived in the square before the morning was Sister Regina Brand.

She explained, “I’m from Germany, and he’s the pope. And I’m here to thank him, to show my love for him, to pray for him, and to see him.”

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