VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI ‘the body, his head falling on the crimson pillow, lay in state of St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday as tens of thousands of people lined up to pay their respects to the pontiff who shocked the world by retiring. ten years ago.
On the first evening of three days of observation, Italian security officials said that at least 25,000-30,000 people would come on Monday. And by the end of the first day’s vigil, about 65,000 people had passed the body, the Vatican said.
In broad daylight, 10 white-gloved Papal Gentlemen – lay assistants to pontiffs and members of the papal family – carried the body on a wooden palisade covered with cloth as it arrived at the basilica to its resting place. ‘front of the altar under Bernini’s great bronze canopy. .
A Swiss guard saluted as Benedict’s body was brought in through the door as it was carried in a lorry from the chapel of the compound where the monks grew stronger, the 95-year-old former pontiff died. on Saturday morning.
His long-time secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, and a few consecrated laywomen who had served in Benedict’s household, followed the car by a few hundred on foot. walking towards the basilica. Some of the women reached out to respectfully touch the body.
Before the dignitaries and the faithful are admitted into the basilica, a prayer is said and the priest of the Basilica, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, sprinkles holy water on the body, and releases a small cloud of fragrant incense taste near the hot spot. Benedict’s hands are folded, a rosary on his finger.
Just after 9 a.m. (0800 GMT), the doors of the basilica opened so members of the public, some of whom waited for hours in the pre-dawn rain, could pay their respects to the late president, who retired n ‘the papacy. 2013 – the first pope did so in six hundred years.
Faithful and curious, members of the public slowly made their way up the central walkway to pass by the draped body as they waited in the mid-morning line. around St. Peter.
Benedict’s body was dressed in a veil, a bishop’s shirt, and a red robe.
Filippo Tuccio, 35, said he took the overnight train from Venice to see Benedict’s body.
“I want to honor Benedict because he had such an important role in my life and my education,” Tuccio said.
“When I was young, I participated in the World Youth Day,” he said, referring to the jamborees of faithful youth that take place every now and then when the pontiff comes. Tuccio added that he had studied theology, and that “his pope joined me during my university years.”
“It’s very important to me: for what I am, my way of thinking, my values,” Tuccio continued.
One of those who come to see the basilica is Cardinal Walter Kasper, like Benedict, a German theologian. Kasper served as the director of the Vatican’s Office of Christian Unity during the administration of Pope Benedict.
Benedict left an “important mark” on theology and spirituality, but also on the history of the papacy and his courage to leave, Kasper told the Associated Press.
“This resignation is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength, of greatness because he saw that he would no longer have the challenge of being pope,” Kasper said.
Kasper, who was among the cardinals who elected Benedict to the papacy in 2005, added that the resignation led to “a more human vision than the pope: that the pope is a man and depends on his physical and mental strength.”
Public viewing is scheduled for 10 hours on Monday, and 12 hours each Tuesday and Wednesday before the Thursday morning ceremony, which will be led by Pope Francis, in St. Peter’s Square.
As Benedict wanted, the funeral will be a simple funeral, the Vatican said when announcing the death on Saturday.
Workers on Monday set up an altar in the square for the funeral Mass. Rows of seats are also arranged for the faithful who want to attend the funeral. Authorities said they expected about 60,000 people to attend the Mass.
On Monday, the Vatican approved the widely reported grave plan. In accordance with his wishes, Benedict’s tomb will be in the crypt of the grotto under the basilica of St. John Paul II used it as a last resort, before the body of the saint was taken to the roof of the great basilica before his death in 2011, said Vatican spokesman Matteo. Bruni said.
On both sides of the piazza’s colonnade, spectators pass through the usual security measures required for travelers entering the basilica – passing metal detectors and scanning bags through X-ray machines.
Marina Ferrante, 62, is among them.
He said: “I think his legacy is to teach us to be independent. “He had a special intelligence in communicating what was important in his faith and contagious” to other faithful people. “What I thought when he died was that I would like to be as free as he was.”
While saying that the shy, the German reader, the church and the theologian and the pontiff who was born in Argentina have different qualities, Ferrante said: “I believe that he will continue to ‘between him and Pope Francis and anyone who understands the true relationship between them and Christ can see that. “
An American man living in Rome called the opportunity to see the body “an incredible experience.” Mountain Butorac, 47, from Atlanta, said he arrived 90 minutes before dawn.
“I love Benedict, I love him as a cardinal (Joseph Ratzinger), when he was elected pope and when he retired,” Butorac said. “I think he’s kind of the grandfather of the people who live in the Vatican.”
With a gentle rendition of the part and the hymn of “Kyrie Eleison” (“Lord, have mercy” in ancient Greek) in the background, the performers make the fans go to the the front continues to a point below the center of the basilica. The one who left the red rose.
A few VIPs had time in public to pay their respects, including Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, a right-wing leader who in the past has expressed admiration for Benedict.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella also came to view the body. The Vatican has said that only two ambassadors – from Italy and Benedict from Germany – have been invited to the funeral, since the pope emeritus is no longer head of state.
Sister Regina Brand was among the mourners who came to the square before dawn.
He said: “He is a German pope and I am from Germany. “I came here to show my gratitude and my love, I want to pray for him and see him.”
Trisha Thomas and Nicole Winfield contributed to this story.
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