Thousands more people are queuing outside St Peter’s Basilica to pay their respects to the late Pope Benedict XVI who is lying in state in the Vatican for one more day before his funeral on Thursday.
The Vatican said about 25,000 more people had visited the body by noon on Tuesday, following the 65,000 who passed by Benedict’s remains on Monday.
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban was among the thousands paying tribute yesterday, following Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni in going to St Peter’s Basilica and standing beside Benedict’s body for a few moments with his head bowed in prayer.
Pope Emeritus Benedict passed away on Saturday at the age of 95, two days after Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray for him as he was ‘very sick’.
Sombre new images show the late Pope Benedict XVI lying in state in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican today
The Vatican said 25,000 more people visited the body on Tuesday morning, following the 65,000 who visited on Monday. Above: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at St Peter’s Basilica today
Benedict became the first pontiff in 600 years to step down from the role in 2013, citing ill health.
Among the mourners today was Rome resident Loredana Corrao, who said she was a great admirer of the late pope.
It was a fitting tribute. It was very emotional and moving. I also came yesterday but I had things to say to him and I also came today,’ she said.
‘I am sure that an important part of the Church’s history has closed and now we have to move on without him.’
The new images showed him wearing a white mitre with his hands clasped around rosary beads.
Pope Francis, 86, has been carrying on his normal workload since Benedict died.
Faithful wait to see the body of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Basilica on January 3, 2023 in Vatican City, Vatican
Faithful leave St. Peter’s Basilica after paying their respects to the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, on January 3, 2023 in Vatican City, Vatican
Orban, who followed Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni in going to St Peter’s Basilica, sits next to his wife after he stood before Benedict’s body for a few moments in prayer
The basilica’s doors opened before dawn today. Above: Benedict lies in state today
Francis will preside at Benedict’s funeral in St Peter’s Square on Thursday with tens of thousands of mourners expected to attend.
Because Benedict was no longer a reigning pontiff when he died, official delegations have been limited to those from Italy and his native Germany.
The liturgy for Thursday’s funeral Mass will be based mostly on that for a reigning pope, with some minor modifications, particularly in the prayers, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.
Palliums will be placed in Benedict’s coffin along with coins and medals minted during his eight years as pope and a sealed lead tube holding a deed written in Latin describing his pontificate – all customary for funerals of popes.
As is traditional for popes, Benedict’s body will be placed in a cypress coffin which will be carried out of St. Peter’s Basilica and into the square for the funeral.
Later, as is also traditional, that one will be placed in a zinc coffin and then both will be placed in another coffin made of wood.
Benedict will be buried according to his wishes in the same spot in the crypts under St. Peter’s Basilica where Pope John Paul II was originally interred in 2005 before his body was moved up to a chapel in the basilica in 2011.
Catholics attending the funeral will include Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen, his secretary said.
Zen, 90, has been at odds with Pope Francis over the Vatican’s agreement with Chinese authorities on the appointment of bishops.
Zen says the deal betrays pro-Vatican Catholics in China and the clergy who have suffered persecution there.
The basilica’s doors opened before dawn today. Also among those paying respects was Miriam Groppelli, six, an altar server in her parish in Milan.
Miriam and her father, Giuseppe Groppelli, 40, traveled by train in the early hours to pay their respects, along with her grandparents and siblings.
‘I told her his story and she was really excited to come to Rome to say goodbye,’ Mr Groppelli said.
‘Benedict has been very important for the Church, his speeches were so clear and beautiful, he leaves a great legacy of knowledge.’
Commenting on Benedict’s relationship with Francis, who was elected to succeed him in 2013, Mr Groppelli said: ‘I believe there’s no real war or competition within the church and between popes. The church lives and grows every day, also thanks to their words.’
The body of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI lies in state at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican today
Benedict resigned from his position in 2013, making him the first pope in more than 600 years to do so
Benedict has been lying in state without any papal regalia, such as a crosier – a silver staff with a crucifix – or a pallium – a band of cloth worn around the neck
Mourners gather near the body of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as it lies in state
The former pope died on Saturday – just days after Pope Francis called for prayers as he was very ill
Mourners hold pictures of Benedict and the Virgin Mary as they wait in line to pay their respects at St Peter’s Basilica
Francis will preside at Benedict’s funeral in St Peter’s Square on Thursday with tens of thousands of mourners expected to attend
Benedict was elected as the 265th pope in April 2005 at the age of 78 and spent eight years leading the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics before he stepped down
Benedict, who as German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had served for decades at the Vatican as the church’s guardian of doctrinal orthodoxy, was known for his theological knowledge as well as for eloquent speeches, which – unlike many of his predecessors – he would write himself.
He was elected as the 265th pope in April 2005 at the age of 78 and spent eight years leading the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics before he stepped down.