Farewell to a Pope: 100,000 mourners descend on Vatican City for historic funeral of Benedict XVI

5 January 2023, 09:35 | Updated: 5 January 2023, 11:04

The funeral of pope Benedict took place in Vatican City on Thursday morning
The funeral of pope Benedict took place in Vatican City on Thursday morning. Picture: LBC / Alamy

By Danielle DeWolfe

Mourners and senior world figures descended on the Vatican on Thursday morning to attend the historic funeral of Pope Benedict XVI.

Presided over by the present pope, Pope Francis, it's the first time in two hundred years that a current pope has presided over funeral for a former pope in Vatican City.

As is tradition, the Pope is set to be buried in the crypt beneath St Peter's Basilica.

Despite only two international delegations being formally invited to the state event in Vatican City, countries around the world have sent senior representatives to the historic funeral.

The two nations who received official invitations were Italy and his native Germany, a restriction that stems from the fact Pope Benedict was no longer a pope at the time of his death.

VATICAN-RELIGION-POPE-OBIT-FUNERAL-MASS
VATICAN-RELIGION-POPE-OBIT-FUNERAL-MASS. Picture: Getty
The Funeral Of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Takes Place In St Peter's Basilica
The Funeral Of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Takes Place In St Peter's Basilica. Picture: Getty

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World leaders in attendance included the king and queen of Belgium, alongside 13 heads of state or government leaders.

They joined an estimated 100,000 supporters who came out to Saint Peter's Square to mourn the Roman Catholic leader following his death at the age of 95.

The former pope, who died on New Years Eve, was referred to as "Pope Emeritus Benedict" throughout the service as part of the religious ceremony.

Pope Benedict's body had been lying-in-state in Vatican City, a period of mourning which ended on Wednesday evening.

His body was placed into a cypress wood coffin ahead of the funeral - the first stage of funeral proceedings.

After the ceremony, the coffin is taken back inside the basilica and encased in zinc before it is then sealed inside a second wooden casket.
After the ceremony, the coffin is taken back inside the basilica and encased in zinc before it is then sealed inside a second wooden casket. Picture: Getty / Christopher Furlong

Items placed into the coffin include a one-page account of Benedict's papacy, as well as Vatican coins minted during his reign.

Dressed in a mitre and red vestments, his hands wrapped in a rosary, over 200,000 people filed past Benedict's body during the three day period he lay in state.

After the funeral ceremony has concluded, the coffin is then taken back inside the basilica and encased in zinc prior to being sealed inside a second wooden casket.

The service began with what's known as the introductory rites, with Pope Francis wishing for "eternal rest and ... perpetual light".

Traditional services conducted by the Vatican include readings from Isaiah and the first letter of St Peter.

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