Crowds Descend on Vatican to Pay Final Respects to Benedict

Body of late pope emeritus to lie in state through Wednesday; funeral is on Thursday
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2023 8:07 AM CST
Crowds Arrive to Say Farewell to the 'People's Grandfather'
In this image, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, center, and his daughter, Laura, pay their respects to late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, lying in state inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, where thousands went to pay their homage.   (Vatican Media via AP)

Thousands are converging upon the Vatican to say their final goodbyes to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who died Saturday at the age of 95. Monday is the first day in which the faithful can visit St. Peter's Basilica to view Benedict lying in state, where he'll be for three days. Two Swiss guards flank the open coffin where Benedict's body is displayed, adorned in red papal mourning robes and a miter trimmed with gold, reports the BBC. Monday's viewing, which began at 9am local time, will continue through 7pm, per the AP. Another 12 hours of viewing will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by Benedict's funeral on Thursday, which will be presided over by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square. Benedict's body will then be interred in the tombs underneath the Basilica.

Vatican News showed images from the first day of Benedict lying in state, which included the likes of Italian President Sergio Mattarella and new Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni coming to pay their respects before the general public. "I think he was a sort of [the] people's grandfather living in the Vatican," one American admirer tells the AP, calling the opportunity to view Benedict's body an "amazing experience." Thursday's funeral—which Benedict himself had requested be observed as simply as possible, per a Vatican spokesman—is expected to draw thousands. Because Benedict had died as pope emeritus, and therefore was no longer a head of state, just two nations' delegations have so far been invited: from Italy and from Germany, the former Joseph Ratzinger's native country. (Read more Pope Benedict XVI stories.)

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