People wait in a line to enter Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican where late Pope Benedict 16 is being laid in state at The Vatican, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. Benedict XVI, the German theologian who will be remembered as the first pope in 600 years to resign, has died, the Vatican announced Saturday. He was 95. AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino© AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino
Story by Matteo Cina •
On the eve of the first day of Pope Emeritus Benedict’s body being available for viewing, Italian police predicted 30,000 visitors. By the end of the evening, 65,000 people passed through St. Peter’s Basilica.
As the day began 10 Papal Gentlemen – lay assistants of the Pope – carried the body on a cloth covered wooden stretcher to its resting place in front of the main altar.
A Swiss Guard – legendary guards of the Pope dating back to 1506 – saluted Benedict’s body as it was transferred from the monastery grounds where the 95-year-old pontiff died, to the Basilica via van. Benedict’s longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, followed behind on foot along with a group of consecrated laywomen who served in Benedict’s household.
Before the general populace were allowed into the basilica, prayers were recited and the basilica’s archpriest, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, sprinkled holy water over the body. Benedict’s hands were clasped, a rosary around his fingers.
Related video: Body of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI moved from monastery to St. Peter’s Basilica (Dailymotion)
On Monday, the Vatican confirmed widely reported burial plans. In keeping with his wishes, Benedict’s tomb will be in the crypt of the grotto under the basilica that was last used by St. John Paul II, before the saint’s body was moved upstairs into the main basilica ahead of his 2011 beatification, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis greets Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI during a mass to create 20 new cardinals during a ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 14, 2015. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File Photo© REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File Photo
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, born Joseph Ratzinger, was born in Germany before the Second World War and was a reluctant conscript into the Hitler Youth and German Army before joining the priesthood. Ratzinger was elected Pope in 2005 and resigned from the papacy, the first Pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years, citing his failing health.
CROWDS GATHER AS POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT XVI’S BODY LIES IN STATE AT VATICAN
“Pope Benedict leaves many legacies; I would point to two. First, he stressed the organic development of doctrine in his famous formulation ‘reform in continuity with the great tradition.’ The latest conciliar teaching, that of Vatican II, does not contradict the past but reaffirms and develops it.” Prof. Christopher J. Malloy, Chair of the Department of Theology at the University of Dallas told Fox News Digital. “Second, and relatedly, he opened wide the doors for celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. The youthful movement that this generous permission enkindled remains strong and grows daily.”
The retired Pope Benedict XVI (R) and the premier of the state of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer (CSU), drink a glass of beer in the Vatican Garden in Vatican City, 17 April 2017. Benedict’s private secretary Georg Gaenswein stands behind the two. Benedict is celebrating his 90th birthday and received visitors from Bavaria, the German state from which he hails. His actual birthday was celebrated with a small circle of intimates including his older brother Georg, Gaenswein and his housekeeper. Photo by Lena Klimkeit/picture alliance via Getty Images© Photo by Lena Klimkeit/picture alliance via Getty Images
“When Benedict XVI stepped down he drew attention to the crisis in the Church – the abuse scandals were a marker of a deeper struggle, a struggle that Benedict XVI described in his memoirs as ‘diabolical’ rather than ideological. He specifically referenced the Marxist takeover of theology faculties and seminaries in the 1960s as a rejection of Christian hope.” Dr. Susan Hanssen, history professor at the University of Dallas told Fox News Digital. “This was a theme of his encyclical Spe Salvi as well: the replacement of supernatural hope of salvation from sin with purely political and philanthropic activism…essentially turning the Catholic Church into a secular humanitarian aid group.”
Benedict XVI will be interred in the Vatican crypt on January 5th.