Pope Francis has joined pilgrims in St Peter’s Square to preside over the funeral of his predecessor, who resigned from the papacy in 2013.
The dome of St Peter’s basilica at the Vatican was shrouded in mist as the cypress-wood coffin containing Pope Benedict XVI’s body was brought out and placed on the steps.
There was applause from the faithful who had gathered for the funeral.
Benedict was then interred in a tomb beneath the basilica.
Clergy from around the world had come – cardinals in red vestments, nuns and monks in their dark robes.
Pope Francis was brought out on to the dais in a wheelchair.
Latin chants sung by the Sistine Chapel choir echoed across the square.
During the Mass, concelebrated by cardinals, bishops and priests, Pope Francis spoke of “wisdom, tenderness and devotion that he bestowed upon us over the years”.
“Benedict, faithful friend of the Bridegroom,” he said referring to Jesus, “may your joy be complete as you hear his voice, now and forever.”
Some 50,000 mourners came to the funeral, according to police.
Official delegations were there from Italy and from former Pope Benedict’s home country of Germany.
Other leaders, including the king and queen of Belgium, attended in a private capacity.
Benedict’s death brings to an end the era of a pope and a former pope living side by side in the Vatican – an unprecedented situation brought about by Benedict’s resignation almost a decade ago.
Over the past few days, some 200,000 people came to the Vatican to pay their respects to the former pontiff, as he lay in state in front of the main altar in St Peter’s Basilica.
There was no display of usual papal regalia like the silver staff, a sign that he was no longer Pope when he died.
But in line with tradition, a lead tube containing an account of Benedict’s papacy, as well as other items, including Vatican coins minted during his reign, were placed in the coffin.
At the end of the service, the choir sang “May the angels lead you into paradise.” Pope Francis placed his hand on the wooden coffin in a final prayer, before it was carried away, to be sealed and placed in another coffin of zinc and an outer one of wood.
It was buried in the crypt under St Peter’s Basilica, where Pope John Paul II was originally interred in 2005 before his body was moved up to a chapel, after his beatification.Tags: