Former Pope Benedict to have simple funeral after lying in state

World

VATICAN CITY, Dec 31 (Reuters) – The body of former Pope Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday, will lie in state in St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday and remain there for three days before his funeral, which is set for Jan. 5.

Here are the initial details of the ceremonies, as outlined in a Vatican statement.

LYING IN STATE

Until early Monday morning, Benedict’s body will remain in the small monastery within the Vatican where he lived. No official visits to see his body, or public prayers, will be held during this time.

On Monday it will be moved to St. Peter’s Basilica, where the public can view the body from 9 a.m. (0800 GMT) to 7 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Jan. 2, 3 and 4.

FUNERAL

Benedict’s funeral will be held on Thursday, Jan. 5 in St. Peter’s Square, in front of the basilica. The ceremony will start at 9:30 a.m. (0830 GMT) and will be presided over by Pope Francis.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said that following the wishes of Benedict, the funeral would be simple, solemn and sober.

Papal funerals typically draw heads of state from around the world, but the Vatican has said that official delegations will come only from Italy and from Benedict’s native Germany, suggesting the event will be relatively low key.

Representatives from other countries or organizations can attend in a private capacity, diplomats were told.

BURIAL

The Vatican said that after the ceremony, Benedict’s body will be taken back inside St. Peter’s Basilica and buried in the Vatican Grottoes, beneath the church, where more than 90 popes have found their final resting place.

In 2020, Benedict’s authorized biographer, Peter Seewald, was quoted as telling Bavarian newspaper Passauer Neue Presse that the emeritus pope had prepared a spiritual testament stating that he wanted to be buried in the same crypt where John Paul II was originally laid to rest in 2005.

John Paul’s body was later moved following his beatification in 2011 to a chapel on the main level of the basilica next to the one where Michelangelo’s Pieta is displayed.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer, Editing by Frances Kerry)

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