Benedict Funeral to Be Similar to that of Reigning Popes
Tens of thousands more people paid homage to former Pope Benedict on Tuesday on the second day his body lay in state, and the Vatican announced that his funeral will be similar to that of a reigning pope, including a three coffin burial.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who like Benedict has called for the protection of Europe’s Christian roots, was among some 70,000 people paying their respects at St. Peter’s Basilica, following 65,000 on Monday.
Also among them was Rome resident Loredana Corrao, who said she was a great admirer of Benedict, a towering figure as an academic and a hero to conservatives but also a controversial leader who did not tolerate theological dissent.
“It was a fitting tribute. It was very emotional and moving. I also came yesterday but I had things to say to him and I also came today,” she told Reuters.
“I am sure that an important part of the Church’s history has closed and now we have to move on without him.”
Pope Francis has been carrying on his normal workload since Benedict died on Saturday at age 95. He had a regular series of audiences and meetings on Monday and Tuesday and will hold his weekly general audience on Wednesday.
The death of Benedict, who in 2013 became the first pontiff in 600 years to step down instead of reigning for life, could make any decision to leave office easier on Francis and the Church, which encountered difficulties with having “two popes.”
Francis will preside at Benedict’s funeral in St. Peter’s Square on Thursday before a crowd that Vatican police say will number in the tens of thousands.
Because Benedict was no longer a reigning pontiff when he died, official delegations have been limited to those from Italy and his native Germany.
Among those expected to attend in a private capacity were the presidents of Poland and Hungary and the monarchs of Spain and Belgium.
Benedict has been laying in state without any papal regalia, such as a crosier, a silver staff with a crucifix, or a pallium, a band of wool cloth worn around the neck by popes and archdiocesan bishops to signify their roles as shepherds of their flocks. Popes are also bishops of Rome.
The decision not to have them during the public viewing appeared to have been decided to underscore that he no longer was pope when he died.
The liturgy for Thursday’s funeral Mass will be based mostly on that for a reigning pope, with some minor modifications, particularly in the prayers, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.
Palliums will be placed in Benedict’s coffin along with coins and medals minted during his eight years as pope and a sealed lead tube holding a deed written in Latin describing his pontificate — all customary for funerals of popes.
As is traditional for popes, Benedict’s body will be placed in a cypress coffin which will be carried out of St. Peter’s Basilica and into the square for the funeral.
Later, as is also traditional, that one will be placed into a zinc coffin and then both will be placed into another coffin made of wood.
Benedict will be buried according to his wishes in the same spot in the crypts under St. Peter’s Basilica where Pope John Paul II was originally interred in 2005 before his body was moved up to a chapel in the basilica in 2011.