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 last 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 no less than partly respect his needs for simplicity but in addition characteristic a few of the pomp reserved for a frontrunner 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 is going to use a combination of rituals — some historic, some tweaked for contemporary occasions.

A few of 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 embody medallions and Vatican cash bearing his picture that had 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 word indicating an official deed — is rolled up and slipped inside a cylindrical tube, then placed inside the coffin. Also being buried with Benedict are the palliums, distinguished hallmarks of his clerical career. A slender stole, fashioned from lambs wool by nuns at a cloister in Rome, it is a potent symbol of popes, who are also the bishop of Rome, and, as such pastors of the flock of Catholic faithful.

Benedict had an image of a pallium integrated into his papal emblem. The stole is also bestowed on cardinals and on archbishops. Benedict in his career served as archbishop of Munich in his native Germany and was elevated to cardinal’s rank by St. Pope Paul VI in 1977.

At the funeral’s conclusion, Benedict coffin returns to the basilica and is brought down to the grottoes under the main floor. There, near the underground crypt where he chose as his final resting place, the cypress coffin will be placed inside one made of zinc. That coffin in turn will be placed inside a third one, made of oak.


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

But celebrating the Mass at the altar will be Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the dean of the College of Cardinals. For Benedict’s funeral, Francis will lead the final rites. Those involve reciting a formal farewell known in Latin as “Ultima Commendatio et Valedictio” and sprinkling the stays with blessed water and incense.

A lot 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 function as Bishop of Rome and in addition 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 had 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 demise of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: https://apnews.com/hub/pope-benedict-xvi

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