The former site Pope Benedict XVIwho died on saturday at the age of 95, he began Monday at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City ahead of his funeral later this week.
Benedict, who was the first pontiff in nearly 600 years to step down, rather than hold the post for life, died Dec. 31 at a monastery in Vatican City, according to a Vatican statement.
He was elected Pope in April 2005, after the death of John Paul II.
The former pope’s body was transferred from the monastery to St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday morning, where it was laid out for worshipers to say goodbye, the Vatican said.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and President Sergio Mattarella were among those who paid their respects as Benedict lay in state.
Watch the most memorable moments of Pope Benedict
Mourners waiting in line in St. Peter’s Square told CNN they wanted to pay tribute to the former pope.
“We are here simply to pray, to thank God for the life of Pope Benedict,” said Paul, a student from Scotland.
“Aside from his theology, which was very important to the Church, I think that all the time he spent in his retreat praying for the Church has been a great testimony to all of us.”
Benedict’s funeral will take place at 9:30 a.m. local time (3:30 a.m. ET) on Thursday at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, according to the director of the Holy See’s press office. , Matteo Bruni. The funeral will be presided over by Pope Francis. In accordance with Benedict’s wishes, his funeral will be “simple,” Bruni said.
Francis paid tribute to his predecessor as he led the Angelus prayer on Sunday.
“In particular, this greeting is for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who passed away yesterday morning. We salute you as a faithful servant of the gospel,” he said.
Benedict was known to be more conservative than his successor, Pope Francis, who has taken steps to soften the Vatican’s position on abortion and homosexuality, as well as doing more to deal with the sexual abuse crisis that has engulfed the church. in recent years and has clouded Benedict’s legacy.
He shocked Catholic faithful and religious experts around the world in 2013 when he announced his plans to step down as pope, citing his “advanced age.”
In his farewell address, the outgoing pope vowed to remain “hidden” from the world but continued to speak out on religious matters in the years after his retirement, contributing to tensions within the Catholic Church.
His death drew tributes from political and religious leaders, including US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Dalai Lama.
Pope Benedict XVI did something no Pope had done in 600 years
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