OAN Shannon Kelland
UPDATED 3:32 PM PT – Monday, January 2, 2023
Thousands of people have gathered to pay their respects to former Pope Benedict XVI during the lay in state, which began Monday previous to his funeral Thursday. Monday is the first of the three days of viewing.
Successor Pope Francis paid tribute to his predecessor during a prayer on Sunday.
Pope Benedict, passed away on December 31st at age 95 in a monastery in Vatican City. He was elected into papacy in April 2005, following Pope John Paul II’s death.
The former Pope’s body was moved from the monastery to St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday morning. There, it is laid out for the faithful who wish to pay tribute to him in person. The Vatican reported that by the end of the first day’s viewing, approximately 65,000 people had visited his alter.
Prominent figures such as Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and President Sergio Mattarella paid their respects at Catholic leader’s lay-in-state. His death also prompted tributes from political and religious leaders including President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Dalai Lama.
There were people of faith from all around the world who waited on line in St. Peter’s Square to pay tribute to the former Pope.
“We’re just here to pray, to give thanks to God for the life of Pope Benedict,” said a student from Scotland.
Matteo Bruni, Director of the Press Office of the Holy See announced that Pope Benedict’s funeral will be held Thursday morning at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. The funeral will be led by Pope Francis and a line with Benedict’s wishes to be “simple.”
Pope Benedict was regarded as an unrivalled theologian but also came under criticism for his lack of recognition and action on the issue of sexual abuse within the Catholic Churches around the globe.
He was known to be more conservative than Pope Francis, who has softened the Vatican’s position on abortion and homosexuality. Pope Francis has also done more to tackle the sexual abuse issue that clouded the predecessor’s legacy.
“Apart from his theology, which was very important for the Church, I think all the time that he spent in his retirement praying for the Church has been a very big testimony for all of us.”
In Pope Benedict’s farewell address, he promised to stay “hidden” from the world. Although, he continued to speak out on religious matters in the years following his retirement.
The former Pope had made history as the first German pope in over 400 years. He made history again in 2013, when he was the first pope to resign in 600 years. His death marks the end of an historical era where there were two living popes.