Benedict, who was the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign, rather than hold office for life, died Dec. 31 in a monastery in Vatican City, according to a statement from the Vatican.
He was elected Pope in April 2005, after the death of John Paul II.
The Vatican said the body of the former pope was transferred from the monastery to St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday morning, where it was placed to bid farewell to the faithful. Vatican Police reported that nearly 40,000 people had paid homage to the former pope as of 2 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET) on Monday.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and President Sergio Mattarella were among those who paid their respects while Benedict was in state.
Watch Pope Benedict’s most memorable moments
Mourners waiting in line in St. Peter’s Square told CNN they wanted to honor the former pope.
“We’re just here to pray,” said Paul, a student from Scotland, “to thank God for Pope Benedict’s life.”
“Apart from his theology, which was very important to the Church, I think all the time he spent in his retirement praying for the Church was a very great testimony to all of us.”
Benedict’s funeral will take place at 9:30 a.m. local time Thursday in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, according to Holy See press office director Matteo Bruni. The funeral will be presided over by Pope Francis. In line with Benedict’s wishes, Bruni said, his funeral will be “simple”.
Francis paid tribute to his predecessor while leading the Angels Prayer on Sunday.
This tribute is addressed in particular to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who passed away yesterday morning. We salute him as a faithful servant of the Gospel.
Benedict has been known to be more conservative than his successor, Pope Francis, who has taken steps to soften the Vatican’s stance on abortion and homosexuality, as well as doing more to deal with the sexual abuse crisis that has engulfed and clouded the church in recent years. Benedict’s legacy.
He stunned Catholic believers and religious experts around the world in 2013 when he announced his plans to step down as pope, citing his “advanced age”.
In his farewell address, the outgoing pope promised to remain “hidden” from the world, but continued to speak out on religious matters in the years after his retirement, contributing to tensions within the Catholic Church.
His death drew tributes from political and religious leaders including US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Dalai Lama.
Pope Benedict XVI did something no pope had done in 600 years
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