Pope Benedict XVI’s funeral has been held at the Vatican, marking the first time in hundreds of years that a current pope has presided over the funeral of a former pope.
Before the service, Benedict’s body lay on display in St. Peter’s Basilica, draped in robes and strung with rosary beads, as tens of thousands of mourners passed by.
As it began, pallbearers carried Benedict’s coffin out of the great church and placed it in front of an altar in St. Peter’s Square.
Thousands of people gathered inside the vast space, including heads of state, royalty and clergy from around the world.
Pope Francis, 86, who arrived in a wheelchair and wore the crimson robes reserved for papal funerals, began the introductory rites.
The service began with a prayer and Francis closed the casket – which was decorated only with the former pope’s coat of arms – an hour later with a blessing.
During the homily, Francis appeared to compare Benedict to Jesus, including his last words before dying on the cross, when he said: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. “
But the current pope did not address Benedict’s specific legacy and only mentioned his name once.
He said: “Benedict, faithful friend of the bridegroom [Jesus]may your joy be complete when you hear his voice, now and forever,” before adding that the ecclesial community “wanted to praise his brother in the hands of the Father.”
After a period of silence, before the universal prayer, the words “To Pope Emeritus Benedict, who has fallen asleep in the Lord, may the Eternal Shepherd receive him into his kingdom of light and peace” were recited.
During the service, he was placed in a casket made of cypress wood previously sealed with zinc inside a further wooden casket.
Some in the crowd held up banners or chanted “Santo Sabito!” chanted, in Italian “Saint Hod Now!” – Echoes of calls that were made during the funeral of the last Pope John Paul II in 2005.
After the ceremony, at his own request, Benedict was buried under St. Peter’s in an area once occupied by the coffin of John Paul II.
Benedict was buried with a document in Latin detailing some of the most notable events of his papacy, as well as some coins and other papal regalia.
Why wasn’t Pope when Benedict died?
Ten years ago, Benedict made the unusual decision to step down from the papacy, saying he was no longer strong enough to lead the church.
In his final years, Benedict lived in a monastery within the Vatican gardens. He continued to wear white robes and did not return to his old name, instead being called Pope Emeritus. A decision that was criticized at the time.
Before the funeral, Benedict’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Genswein, told Vatican News about the late pope’s last words.
In a final profession of love to the Lord, Ganswain said: “With only a whisper of a voice, but in a distinctly distinct manner, [Benedict] Said in Italian, ‘Lord, I love you!’ I wasn’t there at the time, but after a while the nurse told me about it.”
for more News Click here