Pope Francis paid tribute to his predecessor Former Pope Benedict XVI Thursday, at a funeral attended by tens of thousands of mourners in St. Peter’s Square.
This event was the first occasion in modern times that a pope presided over Funeral From his predecessor – and the first to ever quit. Benedict, the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign, rather than hold office for life, died at the age of 95 on December 31 in a monastery in Vatican City.
It was an occasion marked by the simplicity of the former pope’s wish. “It’s hard to have a simple service in St. Peter’s Square, but I think it was,” Father James Martin, a Jesuit pastor, writer and editor, told Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo in CNN Newsroom.
“You have to have some of the pomp and ceremony of the previous pope, but I think within the guidelines of what Pope Emeritus Benedict wanted, it worked very well.”
About 50,000 people attended the funeral in Saint Peter’s Square according to Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni, compared to an estimated 1.1 million people at the funeral of Pope John Paul II’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II. There were 500,000 people in St. Peter’s Square and the surrounding area in 2005, and another 600,000 watched on video screens in other parts of Rome.
John Paul II’s funeral was the largest gathering of heads of state ever outside the United Nations. The delegations included nine monarchs as well as 70 presidents and prime ministers.
Over the six days between John Paul II’s death and his funeral, an estimated 3 million people came to pay their final respects. Every hour, 21,000 people passed St. Peter’s Basilica. The average wait time to see the Pope was 13 hours, and the line at its maximum was 3 miles long.
In pictures: Funeral of former Pope Benedict XVI
Dignitaries and religious leaders lined the square on Thursday, which can hold nearly 60,000 people, for the ceremony. Czech Republic Prime Minister Petr Fiala was among those in attendance, according to CNN affiliate Prima.
The ceremony was similar to that of the reigning pope, but with some modifications. Benedict was named Pope Emeritus during the funeral, and the language of some prayers was different because he was not the reigning Pope at his death.
Francis began leading Mass on Thursday morning, during which he delivered a sermon at approximately 10 a.m. local time (4 a.m. ET). The crowd members later participated in the sacrament.
Francis said while delivering the homily: “The faithful people of God gathered here, now accompany him and entrust them with the life of a shepherd.”
Like the women in the grave, we also brought a scent of gratitude and a balm of hope, to show him once again the undying love. We want to do it with the same wisdom, tenderness and devotion that he has bestowed on us over the years. his soul.”
Francis added, “Benedict, faithful friend to the groom, may your joy be complete as you hear his voice now and forever.”
Benedict’s coffin was carried through the church and taken to the Vatican crypt for burial in the first tomb of John Paul II. The tomb was evacuated after John Paul II’s body and the remains were moved to a chapel inside the church after he was made a saint.
As Benedict’s coffin was carried to St. Peter’s Basilica, many members of the crowd could be heard chanting “Santo Subito,” an invitation for the Pope Emeritus to be made a saint immediately.
At the time of the burial during the rites, a ribbon was placed around the coffin with the seals of the Apostolic Chamber, the Papal House and the liturgical ceremonies. The cypress coffin was placed inside a zinc coffin welded and sealed, and then placed inside a wooden coffin, which was buried, according to Bruni.
The ceremony is expected to end around 11:15 AM local time (5.15 AM ET).
The funeral is scheduled to be attended by high-profile dignitaries including Queen Sofia of Spain and German Chancellor Olaf Schultz, along with US Ambassador to the Holy See Joe Donnelly.
Benedict was elected Pope in April 2005 after the death of John Paul II. He was known to be more conservative than his successor, Pope Francis, who has taken steps to soften the Vatican’s stance on abortion and homosexuality, as well as doing more to deal with the sexual abuse crisis that has engulfed and clouded the church in recent years. Benedict’s legacy.
The scroll placed inside the coffin of Pope Benedict XVI, which is a biography of his life and recalls some of the most important moments of his tenure, states that he fought “resolutely” against pedophilia.
“He resolutely fought offenses committed by the clergy against minors or infirm persons, and constantly called upon the Church to conversion, prayer, penance, and purification,” the book reads.
His death drew tributes from political and religious leaders, including US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Dalai Lama.
Some 200,000 mourners, including Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and President Sergio Mattarella, paid their respects to the former pope earlier this week during his stay at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Benedict’s public display ended on Wednesday, before an intimate religious ritual during which items including coins and medals from his tenure and a papal coil were placed in his sealed cypress coffin before the funeral.
Meloni, an “enlightened theologian,” praised Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in a tweet on Thursday.
Today in St Peters to bid farewell to Pope Benedict XVI Emeritus. Meloni tweeted after the funeral I attended.
“We have a mission to preserve and always honor her and carry on her precious teachings,” she added.
The Italian government announced earlier on Wednesday that the Italian and European flags will be flown at half-staff in public buildings across Italy on Thursday.