EXPLAINER: Benedict’s funeral was simple, but pompous

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI holds one of the highest positions in the world, but in his later years he expressed a desire to be “hidden from the world”. Although his body has been on display for three days this week, Thursday’s funeral will at least partially honor his desire for simplicity but also some reserved pomp. for a leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Some rituals will take place out of the public eye. There will be other forms of traditional ceremonies at St Peter’s Square in front of tens of thousands of people, including national leaders and royal representatives.

Benedict died at the age of 95 on December 31 in a convent on the Vatican grounds, where he spent nearly a decade of his retirement, his days mostly spent in prayer and reflection. This week, as the Catholic Church bids farewell to its 265th pope, it will use a series of ceremonies – some ancient, some adapted for modern times.

Some details on the official Vatican farewell.


On Wednesday evening, after the last guests have left St Peter’s Basilica, where Benedict XVI’s body is on display, his body will be placed in a coffin hewn out of cypress for some time. very private engraving.

The Vatican said that, before the coffin lid is placed on the coffin, items identified as pope for nearly eight years of Pope Benedict XVI will be placed inside. These include Vatican medals and coins with his image minted during his pontificate and circulated in euro countries.

A one-page account of his pontificate — known in Italian as “rogito,” a word for an official act — was rolled up and stuffed into a cylinder, then placed inside the coffin. pallium, a prominent mark in his missionary career. Catholic faithful.

Benedict had an image of the pallium incorporated into his papal emblem. Cloaks are also given to cardinals and archbishops. During his career, Benedict XVI served as archbishop of Munich in his native Germany and was elevated to the rank of cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1977.

When the funeral was over, Benedict’s coffin was returned to the basilica and taken down to the caves below the main floor. There, near the crypt where he chose to be his final resting place, the cypress coffin will be placed inside a zinc casket. That coffin in turn will be placed inside a third coffin, made of oak.


The coffin will return to the public at around 8:45 a.m. (0745GMT) Thursday when it is removed from the basilica. The faithful in St. Peter’s Square, estimated to be at least 60,000, were invited to say the Rosary aloud. Pope Francis will preside over the funeral, sit in front of a covered altar, and deliver homily and important prayers.

But celebrating Mass at the altar will be Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, rector of the College of Cardinals. For Benedict’s funeral, Pope Francis will preside over the final rites. Those involve reciting a formal farewell called in Latin “Ultima Commendatio et Valediccio” and sprinkling water and incense on the remains.

Much of the liturgy at Mass reflects the funeral rites of the current popes. There will be one notable exception: past funerals, including that of John Paul in 2005, have included special “suppliche” prayers, or prayers — including a name long book of saints — reflecting a pope’s role as Bishop of Rome and also as head of the Church. Eastern Rite Church.

But since Benedict had resigned as pope before his death, no such pleas would resound throughout the square.


Benedict’s remains will be placed in the crypt where John Paul’s tomb was laid to rest. John Paul’s remains were moved upstairs from the caves and into the main basilica for his beatification in 2011 during Benedict’s pontificate. Pope Francis declared the Polish pope a saint in 2014.


Nicole Winfield contributed reporting.


More information on the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:


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