EXPLAINER: Benedict’s funeral to be easy, however with pomp



VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI held one of many world’s highest-profile positions however in his remaining years expressed a want to be “hidden to the world.” Whereas his physique had been on show this week for 3 days, his funeral Thursday will at the least partly respect his needs for simplicity but in addition function among the pomp reserved for a pacesetter of the Roman Catholic Church.

Some rites will happen out of the general public eye. There will likely be different types of tradition-laden ceremony in St. Peter’s Sq. earlier than tens of 1000’s of individuals, together with nationwide leaders and representatives of assorted international locations’ royal households.

Benedict died at 95 on Dec. 31 within the monastery on the Vatican grounds the place he had spent almost all of his decade in retirement, his days primarily dedicated to prayer and reflection. This week, because the Catholic Church bids farewell to its 265th pontiff, it should use a combination of rituals — some historic, some tweaked for contemporary occasions.

Among the particulars of the Vatican’s formal farewell.


On Wednesday night, after the final guests left St. Peter’s Basilica, the place Benedict’s physique had been on show, it was to be positioned right into a coffin hewn from cypress timber in a strictly non-public second.

Earlier than the quilt is positioned atop the coffin, objects recognized with Benedict’s almost eight-year-long papacy will likely be positioned inside, the Vatican stated. They embrace medallions and Vatican cash bearing his picture that have been minted throughout his papacy and circulated in euro dominations.

A one-page written account of his papacy — identified in Italian as a “rogito,” a phrase indicating an official deed — is rolled up and slipped inside a cylindrical tube, then positioned contained in the coffin. Additionally being buried with Benedict are the palliums, distinguished hallmarks of his clerical profession. A slender stole, usual from lambs wool by nuns at a cloister in Rome, it’s a potent image of popes, who’re additionally the bishop of Rome, and, as such pastors of the flock of Catholic devoted.

Benedict had a picture of a pallium built-in into his papal emblem. The stole can be bestowed on cardinals and on archbishops. Benedict in his profession served as archbishop of Munich in his native Germany and was elevated to cardinal’s rank by St. Pope Paul VI in 1977.

On the funeral’s conclusion, Benedict coffin returns to the basilica and is introduced right down to the grottoes beneath the principle ground. There, close to the underground crypt the place he selected as his remaining resting place, the cypress coffin will likely be positioned inside one product of zinc. That coffin in flip will likely be positioned inside a 3rd one, product of oak.


The coffin will return to the general public’s view about 8:45 a.m. (0745GMT) Thursday when it’s carried out of the basilica. The devoted in St. Peter’s Sq., who’re anticipated to quantity at the least 60,000, have been invited to recite the rosary aloud. Pope Francis will preside over the funeral, taking his place in entrance of a canopied altar, and delivering the homily and key invocations.

However celebrating the Mass on the altar will likely be Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the dean of the Faculty of Cardinals. For Benedict’s funeral, Francis will lead the ultimate rites. These contain reciting a proper farewell identified in Latin as “Ultima Commendatio et Valedictio” and sprinkling the stays with blessed water and incense.

Many of the liturgy within the Mass mirrors these in funerals for reigning pontiffs. There will likely be one notable exception: previous funerals, together with John Paul’s in 2005, included particular “suppliche,” or prayful implorations — that includes an extended litany of the names of saints — reflecting a pontiff’s position as Bishop of Rome and likewise head of the Japanese ceremony church buildings.

However as a result of Benedict had retired from the papacy earlier than he died, no such implorations will ring out throughout the sq..


Benedict’s stays will go right into a crypt the place John Paul’s tomb had rested. John Paul’s stays have been moved upstairs from the grottoes and into the principle basilica for his 2011 beatification throughout Benedict’s papacy. Pope Francis declared the Polish pontiff a saint in 2014.


Nicole Winfield contributed reporting.


Extra on the loss of life of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: https://apnews.com/hub/pope-benedict-xvi

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