Pope Francis leads prayers to Benedict XVI as Catholics across the UK pray at mass services today.

Pope Francis prayed for his predecessor’s passage to heaven as he presided over a special New Year’s Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, a day after Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died in his Vatican retreat.

Benedict, the first pope in 600 years to resign from office, died at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican at 9:34 a.m. Saturday.

Francis looked tired and sat with his head bowed as Mass began on the first day of the year, having arrived at St. Peter’s Basilica in a wheelchair.

The pontiff started from his homily written this morning to pray aloud for Benedict, imploring the Virgin Mary to “accompany him on his way into the hands” of God.

Francis will lead the funeral of Benedict XVI on Thursday in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis celebrates a Mass for the solemnity of Saint Mary at the beginning of the new year, in Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, Sunday, January 1, 2023.

Pope Francis looks on as he attends Mass to mark the World Day of Peace, at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, on January 1, 2023.

Pope Francis looks on as he attends Mass to mark the World Day of Peace, at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, on January 1, 2023.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the Munich airport before his departure for Rome in 2020

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the Munich airport before his departure for Rome in 2020

That rite will be simple, the Vatican said, in accordance with the wishes of Benedict XVI, who for decades as a German cardinal served as guardian of the Church’s doctrinal orthodoxy before being elected pope in 2005.

A host of world leaders honored Benedict’s legacy, with King Charles expressing “deep sadness” over his death in a message to Francis, as did the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Justin Welby also paid tribute.

US President Joe Biden called Benedict an “inspiration to all” and “a renowned theologian, with a lifetime of devotion to the Church, guided by its principles and faith.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Conference of Catholic Bishops of England and Wales confirmed that Catholics across the UK will pray for Benedict on Sunday.

Its general secretary, the Rev. Canon Chris Thomas, said: “We encourage Catholics in England and Wales to keep Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in their prayers.”

Benedict became the second pontiff in history to visit the UK in 2010 when he met the Queen and made a historic speech at Westminster Hall.

Starting Monday, his body will be in St. Peter’s Basilica so that the faithful can pay their respects.

Pope Francis presides at the Holy Mass for the Solemnity of Mary Most Holy Mother of God on the 56th World Day of Peace in Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, on January 1, 2023.

Pope Francis presides at the Holy Mass for the Solemnity of Mary Most Holy Mother of God on the 56th World Day of Peace in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, on January 1, 2023.

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate a Mass for the solemnity of Saint Mary at the beginning of the new year, at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, Sunday, January 1, 2023.

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate a Mass for the solemnity of Saint Mary at the beginning of the new year, at Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, Sunday, January 1, 2023.

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Mass on the occasion of the World Day of Peace in Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, on January 1, 2023.

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Mass on the occasion of the World Day of Peace in Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, on January 1, 2023.

Queen Elizabeth II speaks with Pope Benedict XVI exchanging gifts during an audience in the Morning Drawing Room of the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, September 2010

Queen Elizabeth II speaks with Pope Benedict XVI exchanging gifts during an audience in the Morning Drawing Room of the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, September 2010

Former Pope Benedict, 95, looks on as he receives the winners of the "ratzinger prize" in the Vatican, December 1, 2022

Former Pope Benedict XVI, 95, watches as he receives the ‘Ratzinger Prize’ winners at the Vatican, December 1, 2022.

Speaking on Saturday, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said he wants Catholic churches in the UK to “echo the funeral mass” with their own ceremonies on Thursday.

Offering words of comfort to UK Catholics, he added: ‘We draw strength and comfort from our faith when someone dies and when it’s the Pope who dies, it’s the same story, it’s the same prayers.

‘We entrust them to God and thank God for the great gifts of his life and especially his life.’

He added: “I was comforted by a comment I heard someone had made in Rome a couple of days ago, where they put it quite beautifully: they said, ‘The angels are gathering, they’re coming to take you home. ‘

In a statement, Charles paid tribute to Benedict and recalled visiting him at the Vatican in 2009.

He said: ‘I fondly remember meeting His Holiness during my visit to the Vatican in 2009. His visit to the UK in 2010 was important in strengthening relations between the Holy See and the UK.

‘I also remember your constant efforts to promote peace and goodwill among all people, and to strengthen the relationship between the worldwide Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church.’

Pope Francis presides at the Holy Mass for the Solemnity of Mary Most Holy Mother of God on the 56th World Day of Peace in Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, January 01, 2023

Pope Francis presides at the Holy Mass for the Solemnity of Mary Most Holy Mother of God on the 56th World Day of Peace in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, January 01, 2023

Pope Francis sits as he prepares to preside over the service marking the World Day of Peace in St. Peter's Basilica, in the Vatican, on January 1, 2023. - Pope Francis will address the Catholic faithful on January 1 January 2023, at the Vatican, the day after the death of his predecessor Benedict XVI at the age of 95

Pope Francis sits as he prepares to preside over the service marking the World Day of Peace in St. Peter’s Basilica, in the Vatican, on January 1, 2023. – Pope Francis will address the Catholic faithful on January 1 January 2023, at the Vatican, the day after the death of his predecessor Benedict XVI at the age of 95

Pope Francis (right) shakes hands with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI while visiting him at the Vatican in November 2020

Pope Francis (right) shakes hands with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI while visiting him at the Vatican in November 2020

FILE - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger presents a book with documents issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith during a press conference at the Vatican on December 12, 1985. Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI

FILE – Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger presents a book with documents issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith during a press conference at the Vatican on December 12, 1985. Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI

Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope number 265 on April 19, 2005, at the age of 78, and chose the name Benedict.

He served until February 2013 before becoming the first pope in 600 years to resign, citing old age and declining health.

Welby praised Benedict as “one of the greatest theologians of his age.”

In a statement, he said Benedict XVI was “committed to the faith of the Church and firm in its defense.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wrote on Twitter: “I am saddened to learn of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

“He was a great theologian whose visit to the UK in 2010 was a historic moment for both Catholics and non-Catholics across our country.”

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “His state visit in 2010 was a joyous and historic moment for Catholics in Britain.”

Author: वेदिका चौधरी

I'm वेदिका चौधरी (Vedika Chaudhary), born and brough up in Rewari - Haryana. I am associated with Elite News as an Executive Editor, since 2021. I take care of all the news operations like content, podcast, social media updates etc. Please feel free to contact me for any feedback/suggestions or further assistance. I'm available at: Vedikachaudhary@elitenews.in

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