At Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s funeral service in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis bid his predecessor a heartfelt farewell by bowing his head and touching the casket.
On December 31, the previous pope passed away in the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery.
Following the service, the coffin was returned to St. Peter’s Basilica by 12 pallbearers wearing white gloves for burial in a crypt underneath the main floor, where Benedict’s coffin will be interred among two other coffins and papal regalia.
To the sound of cheers and tolling bells, twelve pallbearers—known as the “Papal Gentlemen,” lay servants of the papal household—carried the coffin into and out of the basilica.
Red-robed cardinals watched as the remains of the Pope Emeritus was removed from the basilica and laid before the altar in the plaza. Benedict’s lifelong secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, knelt down and kissed an open book of the Gospels on the coffin as a sign of his farewell.
Pope Francis who conducted the funeral requested that the angels usher the late pope into paradise and grant him eternal rest.
He also prayed that God would give the living faithful the security of faith and hope.
Pope Francis said: “Benedict, faithful friend of the Bridegroom, may your joy be complete as you hear his voice, now and forever,” The Lord quietly bestows the spirit of meekness that is ready to understand, accept, hope and risk. It is the source of an unseen and elusive fruitfulness, born of his knowing the One in whom he has placed his trust.”
“Holding fast to the Lord’s last words and to the witness of His entire life, we too want to follow in His steps and to commend our brother into the hands of the Father.”
“God’s faithful people now accompanies and entrusts to Him the life of the one who was their pastor. Like the women at the tomb, we too have come with the fragrance of gratitude and the balm of hope, in order to show Him once more the love that is undying”
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