On the eve of the first day on which the body of Pope Emeritus Benedict could be viewed, the Italian police expected 30,000 visitors. At the end of the evening, 65,000 people passed through St. Peter’s Basilica.
As the day began, 10 papal gentlemen – lay assistants to the pope – carried the body on a cloth-covered wooden stretcher to its resting place in front of the main altar.
POPE EMERITS BENEDICT XVI DEAD AT 95, SAYS THE VATICAN
A Swiss Guard – legendary papal guards dating back to 1506 – saluted Benedict’s body as it was taken by van to the basilica from the monastery grounds where the 95-year-old pope died. Benedict’s longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, followed on foot along with a group of consecrated lay people who served in Benedict’s household.
Before the general population was allowed to enter the basilica, prayers were said and the archpriest of the basilica, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, sprinkled the body with holy water. Benedikt’s hands were clasped, a rosary on his fingers.
On Monday, the Vatican confirmed the widespread burial plans. According to his wishes, Benedict’s tomb will be in the crypt of the grotto beneath the last of St. John Paul II before the saint’s body was taken upstairs to the main basilica ahead of his beatification in 2011, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said .
Born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany before World War II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a reluctant conscript in the Hitler Youth and German Army before joining the priesthood. Ratzinger was elected pope in 2005 and became the first pope in almost 600 years to resign from the papacy, citing his failing health.
CROWDS GATHER DURING THE corpse of POPE EM. BENEDICT XVI
“Pope Benedict leaves many legacies; I would like to point out two. First, he emphasized the organic development of the doctrine in his famous phrase “reform in continuity with the great tradition.” The most recent conciliar teaching, that of Vatican II, does not contradict the past but affirms and develops it.” Prof. Christopher J. Malloy, chair of the Department of Theology at the University of Dallas, told Fox News Digital. “Second and related to this, he opened the doors for the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass. The youth movement that this generous permit ignited remains strong and growing every day.”
“As Benedict XVI. resigned, he drew attention to the crisis in the church – the abuse scandals were a sign of a deeper struggle, a struggle that Benedict XVI. described in his memoirs as ‘diabolical’ rather than ideological of theological schools 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 also a Theme of his encyclical Spe Salvi: the replacement of the supernatural hope of salvation from sin with purely political and philanthropic activism… essentially transforming the Catholic Church into a secular humanitarian aid organization.”
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Benedict XVI will be buried in the crypt of the Vatican on January 5.