Tens of thousands of people are expected to pay their respects to former Pope Benedict XVI as his body begins lying in state at the Vatican today, Monday. Vatican has announced that members of public will be allowed to view the body from 9 am to 7pm for the next three days before his funeral which would take place on Thursday.
Benedict’s funeral will be held on Thursday, Jan 5 in front of the basilica in a ceremony which would be presided over by Pope Francis. The funeral will take place in St Peter’s Square, before the Pope Emeritus is laid to rest in the tombs beneath the Basilica
However, unlike other papal funerals which usually attract heads of state from around the world, The Vatican has said the event will be low-key. Only official delegations from Italy and those from Benedict’s native Germany will be invited.
This is in line with the former pope’s wishes who wanted a low-key ceremony for his final rites. The last papal funeral, of John Paul II in 2005, drew a million faithful and heads of state from around the world,
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The former pope who was the first one to resign in 600 years died on New Years Eve at the age of 95, almost a decade after he stood down because of ill health. In his final testament which was published after his death, the former pope asked “for forgiveness” to those he had wronged.
In the letter dated August 29, 2006, the former pope thanked God for guiding him “well” throughout life. He also expressed gratitude to his parents who he said gave him “life in a difficult time.”
He went on to thank his sister for her “selfless” help and his brother for the “clarity of judgment” he shared with him.