Sombre new images show Pope Benedict lying in state in the Vatican as Hungarian PM Viktor Orban joins tens of thousands filling through St. Peter’s Basilica
- Orban was among 25,000 people who paid their respects inside St Peter’s Basilica before noon today
- Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is lying in state before his state funeral on Thursday
- He passed away on Saturday aged 95, two days after Pope Francis had called for prayers
Sombre new images show the late Pope Benedict XVI lying in state in the Vatican, as Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban joined thousands in paying their respects today.
Orban, who followed Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in going to St Peter’s Basilica, stood with his wife before Benedict’s body for a few moments in prayer.
The Vatican said about 25,000 more people had visited the body by noon on Tuesday, following the 65,000 who visited on Monday.
Pope Emeritus Benedict passed away on Saturday aged 95, two days after Pope Francis had called on the faithful to pray for him, saying he was ‘very sick’.
Sombre new images show the late Pope Benedict XVI lying in state in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican today
The Vatican said about 25,000 more people visited the body by noon on Tuesday, following the 65,000 who visited on Monday. Above: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is seen at St Peter’s Basilica today
Among the mourners today was Rome resident Loredana Corrao, who said she was a great admirer of the late pope.
‘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,’ she said.
The new images showed him wearing a white mitre, as his hands were clasped around rosary beads.
Pope Francis has been carrying on his normal workload since Benedict died.
He has 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 step down easier on Francis and the Church, which has sometimes struggled with having ‘two popes’.
Orban, who followed Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in going to St Peter’s Basilica, is seen sitting next to his wife after he stood before Benedict’s body for a few moments in prayer
The basilica’s doors opened before dawn on Tuesday. Above: Benedict lies in state today
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Francis will preside at Benedict’s funeral in St. Peter’s Square on Thursday before a crowd that Vatican police say will be 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.
The details of Benedict’s funeral are still not known.
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 cloth worn around the neck by archdiocesan bishops.
It was not clear if the pastoral cross or any other items he used as pope will be buried with him but 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.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said 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.
Among prominent churchmen coming for the funeral will be Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen, his secretary said.
Zen, a retired 90-year-old bishop, has been sharply at odds with Francis over the Vatican’s agreement with Chinese authorities on the appointment of bishops.
Zen contends the deal betrays pro-Vatican Catholics in China and the clergy who have suffered persecution there.
The basilica’s doors opened before dawn on Tuesday. Also among those paying respects was Miriam Groppelli, an altar server in her parish in Milan, who wasn’t even born when Benedict was pontiff.
The 6-year-old and her father, Giuseppe Groppelli, 40, traveled by train in the early hours to offer their homage, along with the child’s grandparents and older brother and sisters.
The body of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI lays in state at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, on January 3, 2023
Benedict resigned from his position in 2013, making him the first pope in more than 600 years to do so
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 cloth worn around the neck by archdiocesan bishops
Mourners are seen sitting and standing near the body of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as it lies in state
The former pope died on Saturday, just days after Pope Francis had said he was very ill
A man holds a picture of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he waits in line to pay his respects at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI lies in state in St Peter’s Basilica today as mourners continue to file in to pay their respects
‘I told her his story and she was really excited to come to Rome to say goodbye,’ Mr Groppelli said.
‘Benedict has been very important for the Church, his speeches were so clear and beautiful, he leaves a great legacy of knowledge.’
Mr Groppelli offered his take on the unusual, nearly-decade-long arrangement that saw Benedict’s retirement in the Vatican City monastery where he died on Saturday, and Francis, who was elected in 2013 by fellow cardinals to succeed him.
‘I believe there’s no real war or competition within the church and between popes. The church lives and grows every day, also thanks to their words,’ he said.
Benedict, who as German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had served for decades at the Vatican as the church’s guardian of doctrinal orthodoxy, was known for his theological knowledge as well as for eloquent speeches, which – unlike like many of his predecessors – would write himself.
He was elected as the 265th pope in April 2005 at the age of 78 and spent eight years leading the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics before he stepped down.
Pope Benedict Emeritus XVI is seen lying in state in St Peter’s Basilica today. His funeral will take place on Thursday
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