Former Pope Benedict XVI will remain in state in St. Peter’s Basilica starting Monday after his death at the age of 95, the Vatican has announced.
The Holy See, the government of the Roman Catholic Church, said the body of the pope emeritus will remain at the historic site so that “the faithful can say goodbye.”
A spokesman said the funeral will take place in St. Peter’s Square on January 5 starting at 9:30 a.m. local time and is expected to be supervised by the current Pope Francis.
It will be the first time in the church’s 2,000-year history that a sitting pope will bury his predecessor. The institution is expected to publish more details shortly.
Former Pope Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday at the age of 95, was the first pontiff in 600 years to resign.
Former pontiff Benedict XVI, who became the first to step down in 600 years when he retired nine years ago, died Saturday at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican.
Pope Francis presiding over the funeral would represent a break in tradition, as that responsibility generally falls to the dean of the College of Cardinals.
However, when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict led the funeral mass for his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.
It is unclear how big a funeral next week will be, how long the mass will last and which world leaders will attend.
After eight years in office, Benedict became the first pope since the 15th century to retire, citing physical and mental health, as holy leaders often serve until death.
The church has 1.3 billion followers around the world and some four million people flocked to Rome and Vatican City for the funeral of Pope John Paul II in 2005.
It is unclear whether Benedict will draw such numbers or receive the same honors as popes who served to death.
Massimo Faggioli, a professor of historical theology at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, told USA Today: “There is no script for this, and people in the Vatican are on edge because they want to send a sign of respect to him and his followers. “. and at the same time not disrespect the reigning pontiff… Such a funeral is unprecedented in Italy.’
It comes after UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak issued a statement on Twitter recalling the late Pope’s visit to the UK in 2010.
‘He was a great theologian… [The] The visit was a historic historic moment for both Catholics and non-Catholics across our country.
‘My thoughts are with Catholics in the UK and around the world today.’
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the Munich airport before his departure for Rome in 2020
Meanwhile, Cardinal Nichols said: ‘I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Pope Benedict. He will be remembered as one of the great theologians of the 20th century.
“I remember with special affection the remarkable Papal Visit to these lands in 2010. We saw his courtesy, his sweetness, the insight of his mind and the openness of his welcome to all who he met.”
‘He was fully a gentleman, fully a scholar, fully a pastor, fully a man of God, close to the Lord and always his humble servant.’
‘Pope Benedict is very present in my heart and in my prayers. I thank God for his ministry and leadership.’
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz paid tribute to former Pope Benedict XVI as a “special church leader” who helped shape the Catholic church.
Pope Francis (R) greets Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (L) before leading the Holy Mass for the Elderly in Saint Peter’s square in Vatican City, Vatican, September 28, 2014.
“As a ‘German’ pope, Benedict XVI was a special ecclesiastical leader for many, not just this country,” Scholz wrote on Twitter.
‘The world has lost a formative figure of the Catholic Church, a contentious personality and a skilled theologian.’
The Vatican said his body would lie in St. Peter’s Basilica starting Monday.
There are minutely elaborate rituals for after the death of a reigning pope, but there are no publicly known rituals for a previous pope, as there is no precedent for such a situation.
Benedict will be best remembered for shocking the world on February 11, 2013, when he announced in Latin that he was resigning and told cardinals that he was too old and frail to lead an institution with more than 1.3 billion members.
It was always going to be difficult to follow his charismatic predecessor, Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005, and Benedict admitted the difficulties in an emotional farewell.
“There were moments of joy and light, but also moments that were not easy… There were moments… when the sea was rough and the wind blew against us and it seemed that the Lord was sleeping,” Benedict XVI said at his last general audience. , a gathering of more than 150,000 people.
After Pope Francis’ election on March 13, Benedict moved into a converted convent on Vatican grounds to spend his last years praying, reading, playing the piano and entertaining friends.
Former Pope Benedict XVI, 95, watches as he receives the ‘Ratzinger Prize’ winners at the Vatican, December 1, 2022.
For nearly 25 years, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict was the powerful head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, then known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
He was elected Pope on April 19, 2005 to succeed the highly popular Pope John Paul II, who reigned for 27 years. The Cardinals chose him between his number looking for continuity and what one called “a safe pair of hands.”
The first German pope in 1,000 years, Benedict himself acknowledged that he was a weak administrator, saying he displayed a “lack of determination in government and decision-making” during an eight-year papacy that was marked by missteps and a leak scandal.
Child abuse scandals plagued most of his papacy, but he is credited with starting the process to discipline or expel predatory priests after a more relaxed attitude under his predecessor.
After his resignation, conservatives in the Church regarded the former pope as their standard-bearer, and some ultra-traditionalists even refused to recognize Francis as a legitimate pontiff.
They have criticized Francis for his more welcoming approach to members of the LGBTQ+ community and to Catholics who have divorced and remarried outside the Church, saying both were undermining traditional values.