VATICAN CITY – The funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who died last December 31 at the age of 95, will be held Thursday in Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican, presided over by his successor, Francis, and before tens of thousands of faithful and authorities.
The funeral will begin at 9:30 am locally at the doors of the basilica, although the coffin in which the remains of the German pope will rest will leave 40 minutes before the temple, where they have been exposed since January 2, while attendees pray the rosary.
The ceremony will be presided over by Pope Francis, although the Italian cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dean of the College of Cardinals, will officiate behind the altar.
THE FUNERAL WILL BE PRESIDED BY POPE FRANCIS
The official delegations will be two, from Italy and from the native country of Benedict XVI, Germany, but many other political and religious authorities, also from other denominations, will go in their personal capacity.
Spain will be represented by Queen Emeritus, Doña Sofía, and by the Minister of the Presidency, Relations with the Parliament and Democratic Memory, the socialist Félix Bolaños, among others.
The President of Poland, Andrzej Duda; that of Hungary, Katalin Novàk; from Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, from Slovenia, Nataša Pirc Musar, as well as ministers from the rest of Europe, such as the French Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin.
The ceremony will be solemn but sober, at the express wish of this pope, remembered these days as the great theologian since the time of Saint Augustine, and will be characterized by enormous symbolism, like everything that surrounds the ancient Petrine headquarters.
But in its course, those in charge of the Vatican ceremonies have had to undertake a series of “adaptations” given the particularity it represents, since Benedict XVI was not a “reigning” pope after resigning in 2013, in an unprecedented gesture in six centuries. of history.
For this reason, the readings and final pleas of the script have been modified and, after his burial, the “novendiales” will not be declared, the nine-day period of mourning that follows each death of a pontiff, because the “current” pope still alive.
The remains of Benedict XVI, however, have been clothed with papal dignity: dressed in the red chasuble (the color of pontifical mourning) and a white miter with golden edges, although without the Fisherman’s Ring, annulled after his resignation as required by canon .
Only in the first hours of the funeral chapel was the record of 65,000 faithful expected for the four days broken.
The pontifical protocol will also be followed with regard to his coffin, made up of three coffins inserted one inside the other: the first made of cypress wood lined with crimson velvet, the second made of sealed zinc and the last one, the visible one, made of elm.
In the first box, together with the remains of the pontiff, will be placed the medals and coins minted during his pontificate, between 2005 and 2013, as well as the different canopies, the white wool stole symbol of jurisdiction, which he had as archbishop of Munich and Rome.
A metal cylinder with the so-called “Rogito” will also be introduced, a short text with the most outstanding acts of his reign.
The funeral will last for about three hours and, after the rites, the triple coffin of Benedict XVI will be transferred to the crypt of the Vatican basilica, where other pontiffs of the past rest.
He shocked the entire world when he announced that he was leaving the pontificate in February 2013.
The tomb chosen, by the will of the deceased, will be that of his admired John Paul II (1978-2005), whose remains were exposed on the surface of the temple in 2011, the year of his beatification.
Another peculiarity of these funerals is that they will be presided over by another living pope, Francis, something that has not happened since 1802, when Pius VII had to officiate the burial of his predecessor, Pius VI, who had previously died in France as a prisoner of Napoleon.
The Vatican already has everything ready for these funerals that have caused almost 200,000 people to pass through Saint Peter’s Basilica to bid farewell to the pope emeritus in his funeral chapel.
Some 60,000 people are expected to participate in the burial, in addition to the authorities, for which reason the entire area and its surroundings will be shielded with security agents, in which today an intense movement of faithful, tourists and curious people was already perceived.
In addition, the Italian government has declared that the flags of its public buildings throughout the country, including those of the European Union, must fly at half mast throughout the day as a sign of mourning.
Step by step: what the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will be like