Pope Francis paid tribute to his predecessor former Pope Benedict XVI Thursday at a funeral attended by tens of thousands of mourners in St. Petersburg. Peter’s Square.
The event was the first in modern times to be presided over by a pontiff mourning ceremony of his predecessor – and the first of those who resigned. Benedict, the first pontiff in almost 600 years to resign instead of serving for life, died on December 31 at the age of 95 in a monastery in the Vatican.
It was an event marked by its simplicity, in keeping with the wishes of the former pope. “It is difficult to have a simple service in St. Petersburg. Peter’s Square, but I think it was,” Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest, author and editor, told CNN’s Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo on CNN Newsroom.
“For a former pope, you have to have a bit of pomp and ceremony, but I think it worked out very well within the guidelines that Pope Emeritus Benedict wanted.”
About 50,000 people attended the funeral in St. Petersburg. Peter’s Square, along with many members of the crowd, called for the canonization of the late Pope, according to Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.
The number of people who attended the funeral of Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, was compared to about 1.1 million. There were 500,000 people in St. Petersburg. In 2005, another 600,000 watched on video screens in and around St. Peter’s Square and other parts of Rome.
John Paul II’s funeral was the largest ever gathering of heads of state outside the United Nations. The delegations included 70 presidents and prime ministers as well as nine monarchs.
In the six days between John Paul II’s death and his funeral, approximately 3 million people came to pay their last respects. 21 thousand people passed through St. Petersburg every hour. Peter’s Basilica. The average wait time to see the pope was 13 hours, and the maximum line was 3 miles long.
In pictures: The funeral of former Pope Benedict XVI
On Thursday, dignitaries and religious leaders lined the square, which can seat about 60,000 people, for the ceremony. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala is among those in attendance, according to CNN affiliate CNN Prima.
The ceremony was similar to that of the reigning pope, but with some changes. Benedict had been named pope emeritus during his funeral, and because he was not the reigning pope at the time of his death, some of the prayers had different language.
Francis began leading the mass at 10 a.m. local time (4 a.m. ET) on Thursday morning. Members of the crowd then attended together.
Benedict’s coffin was moved from the Basilica to the Vatican for burial in the first tomb of John Paul II. The tomb was emptied after the body of John Paul II and his remains were moved to the church inside the Basilica after they were consecrated.
Benedict’s coffin in St. Peter’s Basilica, many members of the crowd were heard chanting “Santo Subito,” the Pope’s call for immediate sainthood.
“The faithful people of God gathered here now accompany them and entrust to Him the life of one who is their pastor,” Francis said as he delivered the Mass.
“Like the women at the tomb, we have come with the fragrance of gratitude and the balm of hope to show him our infinite love once again. We want to do this with the same wisdom, finesse and devotion that he has given us over the years. We want to say together: “Father, into Your hands we commit our souls.”
“Benedict, faithful friend of the Bridegroom, may your joy be complete when you hear his voice now and forever,” Francis said.
A ribbon with the seals of the apostolic chamber, papal house, and liturgical feasts is placed around the coffin during the funeral service. The cypress casket was placed inside a soldered and sealed zinc casket and then placed inside a wooden casket. Buried according to Bruni.
The ceremony is expected to end at 11:15 a.m. local time (5:15 a.m. ET).
The funeral will be attended by high-ranking officials including Queen Sofia of Spain and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, along with US Ambassador to the Holy See Joe Donnelly.
Benedict was elected Pope in April 2005 after the death of John Paul II. He was known to be more conservative than his successor, Pope Francis, who took steps to soften the Vatican’s stance on abortion and homosexuality, as well as doing more to deal with the sexual-violence crisis that has engulfed the church in recent years. Benedict’s legacy.
The scroll placed in the coffin of Pope Benedict XVI, which tells the biography and the most important moments of his stay in office, reminds us that he fought “firmly” against pedophilia.
“He fought resolutely against the crimes committed by the clergy against minors or vulnerable persons, constantly calling the Church to religion, prayer, repentance and purification,” he said.
His death drew tributes from political and religious leaders including US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Dalai Lama.
Around 200,000 mourners, including Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and President Sergio Mattarella, paid their respects to the former pontiff as he lay in state in St Petersburg earlier this week. Peter’s Basilica.
Benedict’s public viewing ended on Wednesday, before an intimate religious service, during which coins and medals minted during his tenure and a papal scroll were placed in his sealed cypress coffin before his funeral.
Meloni paid tribute to “enlightened theologian” Pope Benedict XVI in a tweet on Thursday.
“Today St. Peter will say goodbye to Benedict XVI. An enlightened theologian who left us a spiritual and intellectual legacy of faith, trust and hope,” Meloni tweeted after the funeral he attended.
“It is always our duty to protect and respect him and carry on his precious teachings,” he said.
The Italian government announced earlier on Wednesday that Italian and European flags would be flown at half-mast on public buildings in Italy on Thursday.
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