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Pope Benedict’s funeral will respect his wishes to be simple

Pope Benedict XVI acknowledges pilgrims during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Nov. 4, 2009. Pope Benedict died Dec. 31, 2022, at the age of 95 in his residence at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In accordance with Pope Benedict XVI’s wishes, his funeral and moments of prayer surrounding it will be simple, according to the Vatican press office.

The 95-year-old pope’s body will stay at his private residence, where he passed away Dec. 31, until early Jan. 2, during which time “no official visits or public prayers are planned,” the press office said in a statement Dec. 31.

His remains will then be brought to St. Peter’s Basilica, where, starting at 9 a.m., people will be able to pay their last respects and offer their prayers from Jan. 2 to Jan. 4, it said.

The funeral Mass, presided over by Pope Francis, will be in St. Peter’s Square Jan. 5 starting at 9:30 a.m. Rome time. And the only official delegations to be present will be from Germany and Italy, the Vatican said.

After the funeral Mass, the coffin will be taken to St. Peter’s Basilica and then to the Vatican grotto for burial. It was widely reported before his death that his burial site would be in the chapel where St. John Paul II’s body rested until his beatification in 2011.

In death the body of Pope Benedict XVI was dressed in a red chasuble, a tradition for deceased popes, but photos provided by the Vatican Jan. 1 showed he was not wearing a pallium, the woolen band the pope and archbishops wear to symbolize how they carry their flocks on their shoulders. He was wearing black shoes — not the red ones he was known for as pope — and was holding a crucifix and rosary.

After his death, the late pope’s body was moved into the chapel of the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican Gardens. Pope Benedict had moved into the building shortly after retiring in 2013.

Photos shared on social media showed cardinals and friends of the late pope praying next to his body in the chapel.

Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, said the reception of the body into St. Peter’s Basilica would be a private ceremony.

Just a few hours after Pope Benedict died at 9:34 a.m. Dec. 31, Bruni told reporters that Pope Benedict wanted his funeral and related events to be carried out “in a sign of simplicity.”

Bruni also said the retired pope received the sacrament of the anointing of the sick Dec. 28, the day Pope Francis told people Pope Benedict was “very sick” and in need of prayers.

“Ask the Lord to console him and sustain him in his witness of love for the church until the very end,” Pope Francis had said at the end of his general audience.

By Carol Glatz | Catholic News Service


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