Vatican releases pictures of late Pope Benedict lying in state

The Vatican has released pictures of the late Pope Benedict XVI lying in state in the monastery where he lived – hours before thousands of people are set to pay their respects. The late Pope, who died on Saturday aged 95, is lying in state in the chapel of the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, Vatican City. He is seen wearing red liturgical vestments and has a miter on his head while holding a rosary in his hands. The pictures also show the late Pope wearing the shoes instead of the sandals he had chosen as his favorite footwear since he became Pope Emeritus.

Behind him, visible in the photos released by the Vatican, was the chapel’s altar and a decorated Christmas tree.

Until early tomorrow morning, Benedict’s body will remain in the chapel of the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in Vatican City. No official visits to see his body, or public prayers, have so far been held.

On Monday morning, his body will be moved to St. Peter’s Basilica, where thousands of well-wishers are expected to view his body.

This will take place from 9am until 7pm local time on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Benedict’s funeral will then take place on Thursday at 9.30am local time in St. Peter’s Square, in front of the basilica, and be presided over by Pope Francis.

Normally, heads of state from around the world attend papal funerals, but the Vatican has said official delegations will come only from Italy and from Benedict’s native Germany.

This suggests the funeral will possibly be a low-key event, while diplomats have been told representatives from other countries or organizations can attend in a private capacity.

Following the funeral on Thursday, Benedict’s body will be taken back inside St. Peter’s Basilica and buried in the Vatican Grottoes, beneath the church.

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“And that the funerals would be on Thursday this coming week. Thursday, the 5th of January, at 9:30 on St Peter’s Square, and they will be presided over by Pope Francis.

“The body of the Pope Emeritus will be in the Basilica of Saint Peter’s where the faithful can go with their prayers for a last meeting with the Pope Emeritus to greet him and to say goodbye.”

Earlier today during New Year’s Day appearances, Pope Francis prayed for his predecessor’s passage to heaven and again expressed thanks for a lifetime of service to the church.

The current Pope sat with his head bowed as Mass began on the first day of 2023, an occasion the Catholic Church dedicates to the theme of peace.

Francis said: “Today we entrust to our Blessed Mother our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, so that she may accompany him in his passage from this world to God.”

Later, he delivered more remarks about the late pontiff as he offered New Year’s greetings to thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Speaking from a window of the Apostolic Palace to pilgrims and tourists below, Francis referred to Mary and said: “In these hours, we invoke her intercession, in particular for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who, yesterday morning, left this world.”

He added: “Let us unite all together, with one heart and one soul, in giving thanks to God for the gift of this faithful servant of the Gospel and of the church.”

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