how did the emeritus pope’s funeral take place?

Benedict XVI will be placed, according to tradition, in three caskets. One in tin, the second in oak and the third in spruce.

A “solemn but quiet” funeral. On Thursday, the Catholic world will bury Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday January 31 at the age of 95. As tens of thousands of devotees were expected in Rome, Italy, to pay their last respects to him, the ceremony was destined to go down in history. It is the first time a sitting pope will officiate at the funeral of one of his predecessors.

Since Monday, the body of Benedict XVI, who left his papal functions in 2013, has been on display in St. Peter’s Basilica, located in the Vatican. This Wednesday, late in the afternoon, the former pope was placed in a cypress coffin, as tradition dictates, “through a special rite”, explained by the director of the Holy See’s press office, Matteo Bruni.

Burial in St. Peter’s Square

Inside the papal casket are kept coins and medals minted during his pontificate (from 2005 to 2013, editors’ note), as well as his bishop’s and pope’s pallium, the white woolen cloth band worn on the chasuble of high-ranking Catholics during mass celebrations. The casket is also filled rogito, a text briefly describing Benedict XVI’s papacy.

The funeral will then begin Thursday morning. At 8:50 a.m., Benedict XVI’s coffin will be taken to St. Peter’s Square, “to enable the faithful to pray the rosary over the pope emeritus’ coffin”, the Vatican said. The ceremony, presided over by Pope Francis, will begin at 9:30 a.m.

The texts and chants normally intended for the burial of popes who died in office had to be changed, because of Benedict XVI’s pope emeritus status. “The prayers are all reshaped in different situations. The readings are also different,” explained the Vatican. For example, the application of the bishopric of Rome and the application of the Eastern churches, regarding the reigning pope, will not exist.

vatican cave

junction reported that the ceremony would begin with the Act of Penance and then the Kyrie, one of the most important liturgical prayers in the Church of Rome. Then, four acts are recited: a passage from Isaiah, then Psalm 22, followed by a quote from the First Epistle of St. Peter before a portion from the Gospel of St. Luke. Finally, Francis will deliver a homily.

According to the booklet for Benedict XVI’s funeral mass published by the Vatican, universal prayer intentions will then be announced. Although presided over by Francis, the ceremony will be celebrated by Giovanni Battista Re, Dean of the College of Cardinals. He will be delivering the final farewell address, to close the ceremony which is expected to last around two hours.

Benedict XVI’s coffin will eventually be moved to the Vatican grotto, away from cameras, which is located beneath St. Peter’s Basilica. There, his coffin would be placed in a second, then a third in oak, as was the tradition for sovereign pope burials. The former German pope will rest at the burial sites of John Paul II and John XXII, before they are declared blessed and then canonized.

Gerald Darmanin and Olaf Scholz

As for the guests, many world leaders are expected in Rome on Thursday, but also a large number of Catholic leaders. Vatican News mentions the presence of more than 120 cardinals, 400 bishops and 4000 priests.

Daily junction mentions the presence of many high-ranking French officials, such as the archbishop of Marseille Jean-Marc Aveline, or the archbishop of Tours and vice-president of the French bishops’ conference Vincent Jordy.

Among the political guests, is Gérald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior and Worship, who will represent the French government, at the request of Emmanuel Macron. German President Frank Walter-Steinmeier and Chancellor Olaf Scholz will also be in attendance, for the funeral of the first German pope since the 11th century. Queen Sophie of Spain is also expected, as well as King Philippe of Belgium.

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