Requiem Mass for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI - honoured as a “faithful friend of the Bridegroom”
Cardinals, bishops, patriarchs and several heads of state joined more than 100,000 mourners in St Peter’s Square on Thursday morning in Vatican City, to farewell and celebrate the life of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
More than 100,000 people attended the funeral while millions around the world watched the live stream.
The funeral was the first time in over 200 years in which a reigning Pontiff had blessed the body of his predecessor prior to burial, as Pope Francis presided over the Requiem Mass.
The Mass was as Benedict requested – simple and dignified
In the midst of a dense fog, Benedict’s cypress coffin was carried out from St Peter’s Basilica, into the Square, to applause from the gathered crowd.
His long-time secretary, His Excellency, Most Reverend Georg Gänswein, knelt before the coffin and kissed a book of the Gospels left open on the coffin.
Benedict’s personal secretary and Prefect of the Papal Householod, Archbishop Georg Gänswein prays before Benedict’s coffin before the Mass.
The Mass began with a procession of cardinals and patriarchs, who had flown from across the globe to farewell the man who had served the Church for more than seven decades. 120 cardinals, 400 bishops and 4000 priests joined Pope Francis in celebrating the Mass.
Francis opened the funeral with a prayer, asking that Benedict’s faithful service to the Church may merit his welcome into Eternal Life.
Farewell Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died at his home in Rome on Saturday 31st December 2022. He was 95. His death in Rome came a few days after Pope Francis asked for prayers for his predecessor whose health deteriorated in the days before Christmas when he developed respiratory complications.
Read the full story here
|"I recall the then Prefect giving a few words of welcome. Until that moment I had only read some of his writings, which were erudite, logical, and precise. Now I encountered a gentle man, by nature a shy person, who went out of his way to be hospitable and welcoming. He quietly enlightened me that I was the first Australian to work in the Holy Office". Most Rev Anthony Randazzo DD JCL, Bishop of Broken Bay
Read Bishop Anthony's Reflection here
Francis, who remained seated for the majority of the Mass, used his homily to focus on the last words spoken by Jesus on the cross: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” He said Benedict’s service to the Church had endeavored to be a witness to these words, which the Pontiff said summed up Jesus’ entire life: a ceaseless self-entrustment into the hands of his Father.
Pope Francis presided over the Requiem Mass for Pope Emeritus Benedict XI in St Peter’s square
The Pope then spoke of the silent, prayerful devotion required by every pastor of the Church, to trust in the Lord’s command to feed his flock.
“Like the Master, a shepherd bears the burden of interceding and the strain of anointing his people, especially in situations where goodness must struggle to prevail and the dignity of our brothers and sisters is threatened,” said Francis.
“In the course of this intercession, the Lord quietly bestows the spirit of meekness that is ready to understand, accept, hope and risk, notwithstanding any misunderstandings that might result. It is the source of an unseen and elusive fruitfulness, born of his knowing the One in whom he has placed his trust.”
He concluded his homily, asking for the prayers of all those gathered and watching, entrusting the care of his spirit to their prayers, and asking them to commend Benedict into the hands of the Father.
“May those merciful hands find his lamp alight with the oil of the Gospel that he spread and testified to for his entire life,” the Pontiff said.
Echoing Jesus’ last words, Francis added: “Together, we want to say: ‘Father, into your hands we commend his spirit’. Benedict, faithful friend of the Bridegroom, may your joy be complete as you hear his voice, now and forever.”
The conclusion of the funeral was met with cries of "Santo Subito!" (Make him a saint now!), imitating the calls many had made at the funeral of Benedict’s predecessor, St John Paul II in 2005.
Although there was no display of papal regalia on the coffin, in line with tradition, a lead tube containing an account of Benedict’s papacy and Vatican coins minted during his time as pontiff, were placed in the coffin.
Pope Francis offered a final blessing to his predecessor following the funeral and Benedict’s coffin was carried back into St Peter’s Basilica as the Sistine Chapel Choir sang “May the angels lead you into paradise.”
In a private ceremony the coffin was sealed and placed in another coffin of zinc and an outer one of wood before it was placed in the crypt under the Basilica where Pope John Paul II was originally interred in 2005 before his body was moved to a chapel in St Peter’s after his beatification.
Benedict's coffin was sealed in a second zinc coffin and placed in another timber coffin before being buried in the crypt under St Peter’s Basilica