On Monday, thousands of people poured into St. Peter’s Basilica to pay their respects to former Pope Benedict XVI. Before his funeral, his body was laid in state.
Pope Benedict was a hero to conservative Catholics who yearned for a more traditional Church in the faith. He died Saturday aged95. Since 2013, he had been living at the Vatican monastery. He was the first pope to resign in 600 years.
Veronica Siegal, 16 years old, from Baton Rouge in Louisiana, said after viewing the body that he made him feel like a grandfather.
She claimed she had studied one of Benedict’s books on Jesus.
Molly Foley (16), from Atlanta, Georgia stated that she believes her classmate is in better stead because he was a holyman who led such a well. A third member of the group wore the American flag.
Before they could enter the basilica, visitors had to pass multiple security checks. Many people stopped to pray and to visit side chapels where they could receive Mass after seeing the body.
The Vatican Police reports that more than 40,000 people filed past in the first five hours.
Benedict’s body was covered in liturgical vestments, in red and gold, and then placed on a simple dais. The body was moved from the monastery to the spot in front of Christendom’s largest Church through the Vatican Gardens.
Two Swiss Guards stood out on either side of the body, and were visible in their attention. They did not wear any papal regalia or signsia, such as a crosier, silver staff with a crossfix, or a pallium. This was a band made of cloth that was worn around the necks of archdiocesan bishops.
Both were present at the 2005 state-laying ceremony of Pope John Paul’s body.
It was not clear if the cross or other items that he used to carry with him were buried with them, but it seemed like the decision not to display them publicly was made to emphasise the fact that he was not pope at the time of his death.
A Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said that Benedict would be buried at the exact spot he requested under St. Peter’s Basilica. This is also the spot where Pope John Paul II was originally interred in 2005. In 2011, his body was moved to a chapel in the basilica.
ITALY’S LEADERS PAY RESPECTS
Before the Church was opened to the public, Sergio Mattarella (the Italian President) and Prime Minister Georgia Meloni (the Prime Minister of Georgia Meloni) were the first to pay their respects.
Benedict’s close friend Archbishop Georg Ganswein, sat next to Benedict’s body at the first chair. He was joined by Benedict’s household members and the medical personnel who took care of him in his last days.
After some time they rose to offer prayers in front of the body. Ganswein was there to offer condolences.
Sri, a visiting lady from Jakarta, Indonesia, told Reuters that she had to travel. Sri, a visiting woman from Jakarta, Indonesia, told Reuters that “he was pope” and that she was Catholic. She declined to reveal her surname.
Benedict will be in his state until Wednesday night. His funeral will be held on Thursday in St Peter’s Square by Pope Francis. The Vatican says it will be a solemn and simple ceremony that reflects Benedict’s wishes.
While the Vatican has a set of rituals that can be used to deal with the death of a Pope, there are no such rituals for ex-popes. What happens in the next few minutes could become the template for future ex-popes.
Bruni said that details regarding the funeral Mass are still being worked out.
Although there was a large crowd, this did not reflect the huge number of people who came to the basilica to pay their respects to Pope John Paul 2. Millions of people waited for hours to gain entry into the basilica.
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