Dhe world reacted faster than the Eternal City. The news of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. on New Year’s Eve 2022 at 9.34 a.m. by the relevant news channels, television crews from all over the world post their cameras and presenters in front of the barrier to St. Peter’s Square.
Late on Saturday morning, the usual queues are still forming in front of the security gates to St. Peter’s Basilica. They are tourists, including some pilgrims from all over the world, who had planned their trip to Rome for a long time before Pope Francis announced on Wednesday that the health of his 95-year-old predecessor had deteriorated sharply and he called on believers all over the world to for Benedict XVI. to pray.
When news of the death of “Papa emerito” reached the Italian capital, the Romans were still asleep or running their last errands before the New Year celebrations. In any case, there are hardly any locals among the people on St. Peter’s Square and along the Via della Conciliazione, the magnificent boulevard from Castel Sant’Angelo on the banks of the Tiber to St. Peter’s Basilica.
A group of pilgrims from Brazil is at least as affected by the death of their “football god” Pelé on December 29 as by the death of Christ’s representative emeritus on earth two days later.
A group of young visitors from Germany are in Rome “for purely tourist purposes”, according to their informal spokesman, who “actually have nothing to do with the Christian faith”. They are happy about the spring-like temperatures in Rome, about the blue sky with the few veil clouds over St. Peter’s Basilica. Your tidy holiday mood is obviously not spoiled by the funeral announcement from the Vatican.
Around noon, St. Peter’s Square empties and St. Peter’s Basilica is also closed. Because preparations have to be made for the Vespers celebration and the Te Deum at the end of the year on Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m., celebrated by Pope Francis.
On New Year’s Day at 10 a.m., Francis will also celebrate Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. These celebrations were also planned long before the news of Benedict’s death reached the world and the Eternal City on Saturday morning.
From Monday onwards, the faithful from all over the world and especially from Rome will have the opportunity to pay their last respects to the late Pope. Benedict’s body will be laid out in St. Peter’s Basilica from Monday. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni announced on Saturday afternoon that the funeral and funeral ceremonies would take place in the simplest possible form, at the express wish of the late Pope Emeritus.
According to the first words of Joseph Ratzinger after his papal election on April 19, 2005: “After the great Pope John Paul II, the Cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard.” Bavarian Marktl am Inn, Pope Francis will preside on Thursday at 9.30 a.m. on St. Peter’s Square.
grandfather of the universal church
Francis used to refer to Benedict in Italian as “nonno”, the “grandfather” of the universal Church, while he himself, as incumbent Pope, is – and remains – the “papa”, the “father” of the Catholic faithful around the world.
In fact, after the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict, the universal Church is not “fatherless” as it was after the long and formative pontificate of John Paul II in April 2005. At that time, believers and pilgrims had stayed day and night on St. Peter’s Square and prayed for the terminally ill Pope from Poland. Prayers for the Dying Pope Benedict XVI took place in silence and seclusion.
The Vatican will soon provide more detailed information on the course and ceremonial of Benedict’s funeral service. Unlike John Paul II, Benedict did not die in the Apostolic Palace, from where the body of the deceased pope was carried in a public procession from the palace’s Clementine Hall to St. Peter’s Basilica, but in the modest Mater Ecclesiae monastery.
Whether there will be a procession with Benedict’s coffin from there was considered unlikely on Saturday. According to his last wish, Benedict is to be buried in the crypt under St. Peter’s Basilica in the original burial place of his predecessor John Paul II, in the immediate vicinity of the crypt in which the bones of the Apostle Peter are to lie.
After the beatification of John Paul II in 2011, his remains were reburied in the Sebastian altar in St. Peter’s Basilica. Now Benedict wants to follow his great predecessor on his last path.