Thousands of people are paying their respects to former Pope Benedict XVI as his body lies in state at the Vatican.

The doors of St. Peter’s Basilica were opened to the public on Monday morning as mourners paid their respects to the late Pope. He died on Saturday at the age of 95..

Members of the public, some of whom had waited hours in the pre-dawn wetness, filed past his body.

Benedict He will lie in open in the center of the famous basilica before his funeral on Thursday morning.

Faithful homage to former Pope Benedict in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, January 2, 2023.  REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
Benedict’s body lies in state ahead of his funeral on Thursday.

Security officials expect at least 25,000 people to pass through on the first day.

Among those queuing was Filippo Tokio, 35, who had arrived on an overnight train from Venice.

He said: “I wanted to pay tribute to Benedict because of the key role he played in my life and my education.”

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Mr Tokyo said he studied theology and “his pontificate was with me during my university years”.

“He was very important to me, who I am, my way of thinking, my values,” Mr Tokyo added. “That’s why I want to say goodbye today.”

Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by stepping down as pope in 2013, the first to do so in 600 years, saying he no longer had the physical and mental strength to run the Catholic Church.

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The legacy of Pope Benedict XVI

During his time as pope, he faced criticism for the Catholic Church’s response to allegations of child sexual abuse, as well as claims of corruption and infighting within the Vatican.

After his resignation, he lived in a monastery in the Vatican and served as Pope Emeritus. He was replaced by the current head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis.

A public viewing of the body at St Peter’s Basilica will last for 10 hours on Monday.

Twelve hours of viewing are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday before the Thursday morning funeral, which will be led by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square.

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