An unprecedented event in modern times, Pope Francis will preside Thursday over the funeral of his predecessor Benedict XVI at the Vatican. Tens of thousands of people are anticipated to attend.
As Benedict’s body is laid to rest in the papal tombs beneath St. Peter’s Basilica, almost a decade after he became the first pontiff in six centuries to resign, his successor will preside over a funeral mass in the vast St. Peter’s sq.
The German emeritus pope was no longer a head of state, but the funeral will be attended by world leaders, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, European royals, and 3,700 priests, according to the Vatican.
The Vatican reported that during Benedict’s three days of lying in state at the basilica, where his body was spread out in front of the altar in red papal robes, an estimated 195,000 people had already paid their respects.
On Wednesday night, it was moved into a cypress coffin in preparation for the funeral on Thursday, which starts at 9:30 am (08:30 GMT) and is expected to draw 100,000 people.
In the Vatican Grottoes, a crypt located beneath the basilica and housing more than 90 papal tombs, Benedict will then be laid to rest in John Paul II’s former grave.
On the day of his predecessor’s beatification in 2011, his body was transferred into the main section of the basilica. 2014 saw the canonization of Pope John Paul II.
On Thursday, flags will be flown at half-mast on public buildings in Italy and Portugal, where a national day of mourning has been declared.
At 11:00 am local time in Germany, church bells will ring out in honor of the first German pope in a thousand years.
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