Thousands View Pope Benedict XVI Lying in State

Thousands View Pope Benedict XVI Lying in State (News Central TV)

Numerous people lined up to pay their respects as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s remains was placed on a catafalque covered in gold fabric and placed in front of the church’s altar, accompanied by two Swiss Guards.

They started lining up early in the morning to see the German theologian’s remains, which was taken early on Monday from the monastery on the premises of the Vatican, where he passed away on Saturday at the age of 95.

“I arrived at 6:00 am, it seemed normal to come and pay homage to him after all he did for the church,” said an Italian nun, sister Anna-Maria, near the front of the queue that snaked around the edge of the vast St Peter’s Square.

While others prayed or made the sign of the cross, several of those passing by used their iPhones to take pictures of the body, which was covered in red papal mourning robes and a miter with gold edges.

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“The atmosphere is very intimate,” Francesca Gabrielli, a pilgrim from Tuscany in central Italy, told reporters inside the basilica. She said Benedict was “a great pope, profound, unique.”

Before becoming the first pope in six centuries to resign in 2013, Benedict oversaw the Catholic Church for eight years, citing his deteriorating physical health.

Prior to his bones being interred in the tombs beneath the basilica on Thursday, his successor, Pope Francis, will preside over the funeral service in St. Peter’s Square.

Normally, when a pope passes away, a conclave of cardinals is called to pick a new pope, but Francis is still in office and will preside over the meeting this time.

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Besides stating that delegations from Italy and Benedict’s native Germany will be present, the Vatican has not yet disclosed any other information on the guest list.

Although Benedict was a more contentious figure, a million faithful and heads of state from all over the world attended John Paul II‘s last papal funeral in 2005.

Although he was a great theologian, his steadfast defense of traditional values alienated many Catholics. He also struggled as pope to assert his power over the church as it confronted a number of problems, including clerical sex abuse.

His replacement, an Argentine Jesuit who is most at home among his sheep and has worked to create a more compassionate church, cuts a quite different picture.

Francis, 86, has hinted that if he were unable to perform his duties, he might follow Benedict’s lead and resign.

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In July, after being forced to use a wheelchair due to knee difficulties, he acknowledged that he needed to slow down or consider moving to the side.

Francis stated last month that he had signed a letter of resignation when he assumed office in case his health prevented him from performing his duties.


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